Like most Americans, Kevin L. Kurlas
was profoundly affected by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on this country.He left a successful business enterprise to join the U.S. Marines. "I was living the American dream," the 29-year-old Columbus, Ohio, native stated from his Wytheville office where he serves as area recruiter for the Marines.
"I could not continue doing that knowing others were fighting for me."
According to Kurlas
was driving to work at Pepper's New York Delicatessen & Restaurant
in Columbus, which he
co-owned with his
brother Michael, on that fateful morning.Kurlas
heard the radio broadcast of the plane crashing into the World Trade Center
but first thought it was a stunt.
"When I got to my office, I turned on the TV," he
stated."I watched several channels.I knew that instant young men and women would be going to Iraq."
Inspired by his
dad, a 26-year veteran of the Marines
enlisted Nov. 4, 2001.He
interest in the restaurant to his
brother for $1.
"I started the business when I was 17 with $500," noted Kurlas
, whose office is decorated with framed newspaper articles about the restaurant."It grew to a 10,000 square-foot three-story restaurant in downtown Columbus.It was very successful."
After basic training, he
served with Fox Battery
2/11 1st Marine Division in Iraq.Kurlas
was in the artillery unit where he
fired the 155 mm Howitzer.
"It's the best decision I've ever made," he
"I want to give young men and women the same opportunity I had," Kurlas
added."I'm real blunt and straight to the point with them.