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Frank Gray

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Travis Mills lost parts of all four limbs in an explosion in Afghanistan. Now he’s a motivational speaker, and he’ll be at Trine University in Angola on Thursday for a screening of a documentary on his recovery.

‘Never give up’ is warrior’s way

Amputee to visit Trine for documentary on his story

Travis Mills was a staff sergeant on his third tour in Afghanistan on April 10, 2012, when he stepped on an improvised explosive device.

In an instant, Mills, a self-described behemoth of a man at 6 feet, 3 inches tall and 250 pounds, former captain of his high school football, basketball and baseball team, became the fourth quadruple amputee as a result of injuries in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He was conscious through the ordeal, he said in a phone interview from Michigan. He looked down and saw that some of his limbs were blown off and one arm shredded.

He thought, “That sucks,” he said.

It was while he was in the hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, that another man – the second soldier to become a quadruple amputee during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – walked into his hospital room. He could walk, the man told Mills. He could run. He could drive a car. He could do anything he wanted.

Mills, of Manchester, Maine, could do the same thing.

It wasn’t long before some filmmakers, part of a nonprofit group that does stories about people facing difficult circumstances, heard of Mills. They asked for an interview, and Mills agreed. It quickly became clear that they had much more than just a short story.

They had enough for an entire documentary.

The film, “Travis: A Soldier’s Story,” was completed in 2013 and has aired in more than two dozen cities around the country.

At 7 p.m. Thursday, the film will be shown at Trine University in Angola. Among those appearing in the documentary are two people who were also injured in the blast that injured Mills, soldiers who took care of him and his wife.

Mills himself will be in attendance at the Trine screening and will host a question-and-answer period after the movie.

In the two years since his injury, Mills, operating with the philosophy “Never give up. Never quit,” has established his own nonprofit organization to benefit and assist wounded veterans and their families.

He is a motivational speaker and says he tries to open people’s eyes and help them figure out “and how to get from Point A to Point B. I tell them about my injuries and the obstacles. You have to set goals.”

Mills actually started to recover from his injuries relatively quickly. Within seven weeks, he was walking on artificial legs, although short ones. Within three months after that, he was walking on full-length artificial legs.

Oh, losing his arms and legs was a blow to his self-esteem, he said, but today he is living life to its fullest.

The Trine screening is sponsored by an online initiative called Tee Shirts 4 Troops. Tickets are $10 and can be bought at www.travisthemovie.com/showings or by going to www.tshirts4troops.org and clicking on the link to buy tickets.

Frank Gray reflects on his and others’ experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, by fax at 461-8893, or by email at fgray@jg.net. You can also follow him on Twitter @FrankGrayJG.

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