Images courtesy: Facebook
As we went about our daily routines last week, a soldier named Staff Sgt. Travis Mills was patrolling southern Afghanistan just a few days before his 25th birthday. Tragically, when his birthday arrived on Apr. 14, Staff Sgt. Mills was without his arms and legs after stepping on an improvised explosive device four days earlier.
I was deeply saddened to learn of this incident last week when I received an e-mail from the wife of a soldier who deployed with the wounded 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper. Her husband, Staff Sgt. Andrew Mills (no relation to Staff Sgt. Travis Mills) is on his second deployment to Afghanistan after also serving in Iraq.
As Linda Mills explained in her e-mail, the explosion that left her husband's fellow soldier with devastating wounds, while also injuring three more troops, has rocked her community at North Carolina's Fort Bragg.
"People don't realize that families not only mourn deaths, but we mourn any tragedy such as the above mentioned incident," Linda Mills explained to The Unknown Soldiers. "And even if it isn't our spouse or family member, we still grieve. And we grieve hard."
Her chief concern is for the wounded soldier's wife, young daughter, parents, and additional loved ones.
"The journey for this family has only just begun," she wrote.
Linda, 28, is doing everything in her power to help this wounded hero's loved ones, and so is her husband. On Saturday, Staff Sgt. Andrew Mills, 27, posed along with fellow soldiers in Afghanistan for a special photo wishing their injured Army brother, who Linda said is nicknamed "Big Mills" since he has the same last name as her husband, a happy birthday. The moving photo is included below.
This story of sacrifice is getting well-deserved national media attention. Fox News, in particular, should be applauded for leading its website with the story for part of Monday afternoon, which is generating an even higher level of awareness and support for Staff Sgt. Travis Mills and his family during this unimaginably difficult time.
Sadly, however, the national media often fails to stay focused on important news from Afghanistan. To stay informed on the condition of Staff Sgt. Travis Mills and show support for his family, you can join the "Support for Travis Mills and Family" Facebook group and follow a special website set up by his loved ones, where donations are also being accepted. This blog will also continue to provide updates on this wounded soldier's condition.
Most importantly, let's all join together and wish Staff Sgt. Travis Mills a happy belated birthday. While we can never adequately thank "Big Mills," his family, and his fellow troops for their sacrifices, we can continue to support him, the soldiers who were wounded along with him, and the brave men and women in Afghanistan who carry on the fight in his honor.
"Thank you for all your continued support and love for my husband," Kelsey Mills, wife of Staff Sgt. Travis Mills, wrote on Sunday. "He deserves it all and more."
Happy birthday, brave warrior, and thank you for protecting us.