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Quadruple amputee Travis Mills stuns Mike Rowe: 'I'm not a victim'

By Katie Glaeser, CNN
updated 11:05 AM EDT, Tue May 27, 2014
  • Mike Rowe meets Mills at conference in Washington
  • Mills' motto is "Never give up - never quit"
  • Rowe posts on Facebook about Mills to mark Memorial Day

(CNN) -- Travis Mills has no arms or legs. He is an American hero who served three tours in Afghanistan and lost all his limbs when a bomb exploded under him.

"How I survived, I have no idea," he said. "I was yelling at the medic, 'Get away from me,' because I thought I was done."

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The retired United States Army staff sergeant spent months recuperating at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, but don't dare call him a wounded warrior.

"I'm not wounded any more," he said. "I'm just a guy living life."

Recalling comrades killed in combat, he asks: "How selfish would it be if I gave up?"

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He snowboards, bikes and recently jumped out of an airplane with the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team.

And now, he has a new admirer in Mike Rowe, the star of "Dirty Jobs" and the upcoming CNN series "Somebody's Gotta Do It." He met Mills a few weeks ago at a conference in Washington and wrote a Facebook post about their exchange to honor him this Memorial Day. As of Monday night, the post had more than 90,000 shares on Facebook.

"He has a motto: Never give up - never quit. He has a Foundation. He's featured in a new documentary. He also has a wife and a kid, and a deeply personal commitment to help other wounded vets cope with their injuries." Rowe wrote. "But when I asked why I hadn't seen him in any of the typical commercials and PSA's for wounded veterans, his answer was stunning. He said he didn't consider himself to be wounded. 'I'm not a victim, Mike. And I refuse to be portrayed that way. Case closed.'"

Rowe ended his candid post by reflecting on the holiday meant to honor America's military fallen.

"That's called a gut-check, and I could use one from time to time. Especially on Memorial Day, when the biggest decisions I face are what to grill and which type of frosty beverage to enjoy. This year, as I resolve these and other important issues, I'll think of Travis Mills."

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CNN's Barbara Starr contributed to this report.

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