Travis Mills returns home

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At a bonfire after Thursday's parade, Mills those gathered that that his "family was really touched" by the love they've received.

Photos of the Fallen: Americans shot down in Afghanistan

Photos of the Fallen: Americans shot down in Afghanistan 44 Photos
Photos of the Fallen: Americans shot down in Afghanistan

"Coming into town was amazing," he said. Paul Wojno, Vassar High's principal, said the turnout for the parade and bonfire was "nothing short of fantastic," noting organizers handed out 1,500 flags and not everyone along the route had one.

Mills also plans to address the crowd before Friday night's Vassar High football game.

The 25-year-old is one of only a few servicemen to lose all four limbs in combat during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and survive.

"This is my new normal, and it's all about how I adjust to it," he said moments after using his prosthetic legs to walk from the living room to the sun room at his childhood home. "There's no good that's gonna come from me sitting there and wondering, 'Why'd this happen? Why me? Now what do I do?' The answer's right in front of you: It happened because it happened."

Mills almost didn't come home at all. 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.

The medic was able to save Mills' life but not his limbs. In the days since, Mills has worked out daily at Walter Reed, getting used to the prosthetics, but also strengthening his body for the rigors of what's to come once he leaves.

Mills was told quadruple amputees require at least 2 and ½ years of recovery and rehabilitation. But his goal is to be out of Walter Reed and back home in less than half that.

"I am going to be out of here" in a year, he boldly told his doctor. After that, he isn't sure what the future holds. He might go back to school, or perhaps work as an instructor at Fort Bragg.

Before any of that, however, he said he's looking forward to spending an "emotional" two days with hundreds of his closest friends in Vassar.

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