Brian Tupaz, 41, was "other than honorably" discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps in 1991.
He was moving up through the ranks quickly and about to become a sergeant when someone told his superiors he was gay.
He went before a three-judge panel and lost his job.
"When I think about it, and I think about the details and the three judge panel that I had to go in front of to basically defend my life and career, I still get very emotional about it," Tupaz said, as he drove home from the signing of the bill that repealed the "Don't ask, don't tell" bill.
Tupaz made the decision to join the Marines in 1987. It was before "Don't Ask Don't Tell" was in place.
He chose to live with his secret and serve his country because he felt grateful to America for giving his immigrant family a place to call home.
"I personally wanted to thank the country for taking us in."
Tupaz says the day he lost his job because of his sexuality was "one of the most devastating days of my (his) life."
"Ever since I graduated from Paris Island, the love I have for the Marine Corps has always been there and even through that devastating period in my life, when I was discharged because of who I was, my love for the Marine Corps never ended."
On Wednesday, a renewed love for country is also something that Tupaz had.
Speaking of President Obama coming in to sign the bill, Tupaz said, "Everyone could feel the weight of the historical moment, especially as he sat down."
Tupaz says there were cries of "Thank you, Mr. President" heard among the clapping and cheering.
"It's not a question of whether gay people should be accepted in combat. They already are in combat," Tupaz said. "It's just a question of whether they are accepted for who they are."
Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Don McGrath says this legislation should have been passed a long time ago. He says he served among gay soldiers.
"The fundamental of all of this is treating one another with dignity and respect, and it will be incumbent upon the Army leadership at the unit level to enforce the regulations as they've been prescribed by the President."
McGrath admits that change isn't always easy.
"Leaders will have to lead, and leaders will have to be the ones to make sure that people who misbehave, who don't follow the rules and regulations, whether they are gay or whether they are straight, that they be dealt with."
Critics have said that implementing change during combat is not the right time.
"The degree of difficulty in the implementation of this might be a little difficult but there is never a good time because the military is always busy and will continue to be busy, so it can be done," said McGrath.