Posted By Tom Plahutnik, Web Editor/Producer - email
VASSAR, MI (WNEM) -
The soldier who lost all four limbs in Afghanistan is visiting his Michigan hometown for the first time since the April incident.
Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills arrived in Vassar on Wednesday to a hero's welcome. The town greeted the wounded warrior with yellow ribbons and written signs of welcome along the route from the airport to his parents' house.
Mills, his wife, Kelsey, and their 1-year-old daughter, Chloe, are to serve as the grand marshals of Vassar High School's homecoming parade Thursday evening.
The 25-year-old sat down with WNEM TV5's Carrie Sharp for a one-on-one interview.
On his third tour of duty that was only to last six months, Mills was hit by an IED.
"I was doing the same work every other guy over there was doing and I was unfortunate to set my bag down on the wrong spot," said Mills. That event has led to a new fight for the man who's a member of the 82nd Airborne, and a very personal one.
"My daughter is going to grow up and know I'm a fighter and she's going to see you can get through things," Mills told Sharp.
Mills credits his wife and daughter as his motivation to get back on his feet, even if they are two new ones. This self-proclaimed jokester admits there are those "why me" moments. "I thought I'd never feel my daughter's hand holding mine again," said Mills.
But there are also some things no one can steal, not even a terrorist.
While rehabbing on his "short legs" and walking along with his wobbly 1-year-old, something amazing happened.
"She will actually grab my hand and we'll walk around together and I can feel that pressure going through the tip of my index finger onto my elbow and into my arm, and I teared up," explains Mills.
Mills will continue his rehab at Walter Reed for another six months, and he says he has no plans to hang up his uniform just yet.
"I'm not entirely sure I'm done with the military," said Mills. "I'm trying to stay in as an instructor, I still have everything they taught me up here, so there's a possibility I'm staying in the 82nd."
For now, Mills is enjoying a well deserved welcome home, and not looking back.
"You can't go back - I would, I would go back to April 10, find the IEDs and then not get hit, but it's not going to happen, so let's move on," Mills said.
He says this experience has made his marriage to his wife even stronger. He said his most prized possession is his wedding ring. One of his fellow soldiers recovered it and made sure it was on the medical flight out of Afghanistan with him.
He now wears it around his neck.
Copyright 2012 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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