Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills served two deployments to Afghanistan without suffering anything close to a major injury. Then, in a second, everything changed.
On patrol during his third tour in April, Mills put his bag down on an improvised explosive device, which tore through the decorated high school athlete’s muscular 6-foot-3 frame. Within 20 seconds of the IED explosion, a fast-working medic affixed tourniquets to all four of Mills’ limbs to ensure he wouldn’t bleed to death.
“I was yelling at him to get away from me,” Mills remembers. “I told him to leave me alone and go help my guys.
“And he told me: ‘With all due respect, Sgt. Mills, shut up. Let me do my job.'”
The medic was able to save Mills’ life but not his limbs. Today, the 25-year-old Mills is a quadruple amputee, one of only five servicemen from any military branch to have survived such an injury during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Maria Tolleson, a spokeswoman at U.S. Army Medical Command. And instead of serving alongside his unit, he has been spending his days based at Walter Reed Medical Center, working on rehabilitation after the accident that dramatically altered the trajectory of his life.
“Just because stuff happened to me, I don’t think it makes me a hero,” he said. “I think it just makes me a guy that did his job, knew the consequences of what could happen and something happened.”
We honor you, Travis Mills.