It was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment during the 2012 CMT Music Awards on Wednesday (June 6). Who was the Marine seated next to Kellie Pickler? He certainly isn’t her husband Kyle — did she bring someone back from her recent USO trip?

Pickler tweeted a picture of her escort for the night with little detail. “Me and my date (Sgt Sean Debevoise)…. she said shortly before the broadcast began.

Sgt. Sean DeBevoise, a Marine who was severely wounded during a 2006 deployment to Iraq, walked the red carpet with Pickler. He brought along his service dog Rusty, who was more than playful as the trio made media rounds.

“I am esctatic about being here at the CMT Music Awards with Kellie,” DeBevoise said Wednesday night, “even more to consider her a friend. She is the most sincere person I know. She is an angel.”

The Marine, a Wilmington, N.C. native, was a part of two separate IED attacks, in addition to a separate incident in which a bullet shrapnel lodged in his head. He suffered nerve damage after the AK-47 peppered his body. In an article for the Wilmington Star, the then-22-year-old Marine is shown holding a model skull that illustrates the part that was removed to allow his brain to swell. He was told he’d never walk again, but proved doctors wrong once he transferred to the New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

According to a press release, Pickler met the now retired military man at a recent charity event in North Carolina, and he invited her to the Hope For Our Heroes, Got Heart, Give Hope Gala. Pickler had to decline — as she was flying out for her fifth USO tour — but invited him to the CMT Music Awards instead. She’s always been a staunch supporter of the troops, because in her words, “It takes a very special person to sacrifice everything.

“When I say ‘everything,’ I don’t mean just their time, I mean their life. Everything!” she continued. “Their family, their kids, their loved ones. You sacrifice every thing to put your life on the line for us, and it’s such a great, honorable, heroic thing … We have to raise our glass to them and keep them all in our prayers and always say thank you.”

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