Julian: The homecoming game in Vassar, Michigan always draws a big crowd. But this year was special. The crowd was welcoming home one of their favorite football stars who had gone on to join the United States Army, Staff Sergeant Travis Mills.
Travis Mills: This is awesome, ok? Yeah!
Julian: Back in April, Mills was serving in Afghanistan for his third time when an improvised explosive device, or IED, blew up beneath him.
Mills: And I set my bag down and about five, six seconds later, I woke up on the ground.
Julian: Two other men were wounded in the explosion but Mills’ 6’3”, 250-pound body took the full impact of the blast.
Mills: My medic came running up and I looked at him and I said, ‘You get away from me. You go save my men. Leave me alone. Let me go.’ He told me, ‘With all due respect, Sgt. Mills, shut up. Let me do my job.’
Julian: Travis woke up at a military hospital in Germany four days later.
Sergeant Mills began his recovery at Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland six months ago. He has had to re-learn how to do all of the things that were once routine to him, but now he is using his four new prosthetic limbs.
The town of Vassar had been following his progress and people were waiting anxiously for him to come home. More than six thousand people lined Main Street to honor Mills and the person he has relied on the most, his wife Kelsey.
Mills: Everything I was going through and all that, my beautiful wife stood by my side the whole time. So I want to thank her real quick.
Julian: Mills heard plenty of cheers when he played on this field in high school, but never cheers like this.
Sergeant Mills still has a long road ahead in his recovery, but he says he plans to take it one step at a time.
Mills: This is not the end of my life, especially having my one-year-old there. She’ll never see me give up or fail, you know. I mean, she’ll see me fall down but I’ll get back up. And I’m just going to keep going.