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

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Story highlights

  • 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

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."

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.

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"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?"

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

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    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."

    The toll of war now includes more amputees

      Remembrance on Memorial Day

    • Members of the Third US Infantry Regiment, The Old Guard, salute as a funeral takes place in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery on May 23, 2013 in Arlington, Virginia. The soldiers were placing flags infront of graves ahead of Memorial Day. Memorial Day is in honor of those who died while serving in the armed forces of the US. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN        (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

      Here's a look at what you need to know about Memorial Day, a day honoring American soldiers who died serving the country in wars.
    • CNN's Home and Away project

      Coalition troops from over 20 countries have lost their lives since 2001. In this unique interactive map and timeline, we remember those who have lost their lives serving for their countries.
    • Maj. Doug Zembiec and his wife, Pam, attend the Marine Corps Ball in 2003. He was killed in 2007.

      When many Americans kick off the start of summer with burgers and beers for Memorial Day, one former Navy SEAL will be in the final stretch of a 1,700-mile, month-long cross-country journey.
    • Family members and friends of fallen service members are invited to share photos, videos and memories of their loved ones. All of those tributes can be found on this page.