Injured soldier, Vassar native, brings community together

Friends, relatives and neighbors tied yellow ribbons around lampposts in downtown Vassar in Mills' honor.

When word got out Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills was severely hurt in an explosion in Afghanistan, it seemed the entire City of Vassar responded.

â??A small community is like a family and you need to stay together, you need to support each other when things like this happen,â?? said Linda Ingles, who, along with the Vassar Veterans Military Support Group, prepared yellow ribbons to decorate the cityâ??s trees and lampposts.

Staff Sgt. Travis Mills, a three-sport athlete known among his peers as a natural leader, was severely injured this week when he stepped on an IED and lost all of his limbs. The 2005 Vassar High School grad was fearless. His brother Zach says, when Travis was deployed to Afghanistan a third time, he went gladly, leaving his young wife and infant daughter in Texas.

"He liked being in the front,â?? Zach Mills said. His wife, Cassandra, added, â??I'm sure the thought of him being hurt never crossed his mind."

News of Millsâ?? injury was devastating for his family.

"This can't be true, this kind of stuff doesn't happen to Travis,â?? Zach said he reacted.

But Mills was more concerned about his platoon.

Good friend Kevin Pratt said, "First thing I guess he said was, â??How am I? How are my soldiers?â??"

Friday evening, hundreds of people tied yellow ribbons around trees and lampposts, lighting up the streets of Mills' hometown.

"For it to show like this, really means a lot, it really is helping the family, it's helping my parents a lot,â?? said Zach Mills.

And on the eve of Mills' 25th birthday, people circled the high school football field Mills knew and loved, and in another gesture of love and gratitude, they shared a moment of silence for a soldier whose light still shines.

Family members say Staff Sgt. Mills is expected to fly into Washington, D.C. on Sunday and will continue his treatment at Walter Reed Medical Center.