Quadruple amputee soldier fulfills promise: greets his combat unit

From Stars and Stripes and Dallas Morning News

by David Tarrant

Standing on his new prosthetic legs, wearing artificial arms and dressed in combat fatigues, Staff Sgt. Travis Mills showed up in the pre-dawn darkness to greet soldiers as they stepped off the plane in Fort Bragg, N.C.

He was fulfilling a promise he had made to himself just weeks after an April explosion in Afghanistan left him a quadruple amputee.

Mills flew last week from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., to North Carolina to meet his fellow paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division. They had just completed a tough seven-month assignment in southern Afghanistan.

He shook hands and received hugs, trying hard to control his emotions. Mills spotted Sgt. Daniel Bateson, the medic who first came to his aid. Mills embraced him. “Here’s the guy who saved my life,” he shouted.

Mills, 25, who was on his third combat deployment when he was injured, talked about his whirlwind reunion and his road to recovery as one of only five quadruple amputees to survive the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He spoke during a recent visit with his wife’s parents in Frisco.

His goal meant he had to work at least as hard at his rehabilitation as his fellow soldiers fighting in Afghanistan. “Honestly, they’re working hard overseas every day,” he said, “so I better be working hard where I’m at, doing whatever I can do to get better.”

To show up for his unit’s homecoming was his way of paying respect and letting them know, “Hey guys, I care,” he said. “I’ve done all this hard work for you, because you guys don’t stop working.”

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