When the phone rang a week ago, DeAnna Millwood heard a man say he was the commander of her husband’s Army unit in Afghanistan.
“I thought the worst,” she said. “They only call with bad news. I thought I would never see him again.”
Spc. Michael Millwood, 23, of Rock Hill, has been in eastern Afghanistan for about three months with the Third Infantry Division Special Troop Battalion. He works as a combat engineer – clearing roads of bombs and explosives.
It is one of the most dangerous jobs on earth in 2013.
And his wife’s phone rings, and it is a big shot Army officer.
The commander told Deanna that her husband was wounded in a firefight and would be taken to Germany for treatment.
The attack happened when his unit was clearing roads and looking for explosives that could wound or kill soldiers and civilians, Spc. Michael Millwood said in an Internet video chat Wednesday from a German hospital.
The unit was “out on patrol when insurgents started firing,” Millwood said. The attack happened out in the open, and the soldiers dropped to the ground to return fire.
“We didn’t have any cover,” Millwood said. “Somehow I got hit in the leg...it broke my femur.”
In the past few days, Millwood has been able to talk with his family and reassure them that he is alive and recovering.
But the first few hours were awful, terrible.
“I was terrified,” DeAnna said.
Millwood will be sent to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center near Washington D.C. Friday for more treatment. His family will be able to visit him there.
Bomb clearance was the same dangerous mission that soldiers from the Rock Hill-based Army National Guard 178th Combat Engineers did in the same part of Afghanistan for months before returning to Texas two weeks ago.
Those 161 soldiers return to South Carolina Friday. None of the 178th soldiers were killed, but four soldiers from New York and New Mexico units that were attached to the 178th were killed.
“He was over there at the same time with some people we know from right here in that unit that is coming home Friday,” DeAnna Millwood said. “It is so difficult when your husband has to do that kind of thing.
“I just want people to know what happened and what a great service he has given to his country.”
That service now includes getting shot in combat, and almost getting killed.
After surgery and insertion of a metal rod to replace the bone, just the first of many medical procedures he will need, Spc. Millwood is thankful to be alive and ready to come home to his wife and kids – daughter, Aliyah, 4, and son Michael, 4 months old.
Although Millwood said he hoped to stay in the military, his injury means that after recovery, he plans to come “back home to South Carolina” to live for good after discharge. He said he still “has some pain,” but is too tough to complain.
He has to buy a gift, too. He and his wife soon will celebrate their first wedding anniversary.
“June 18,” DeAnna Millwood said.
And Michael Millwood, a fighter, will celebrate with his family even if he still is in a military hospital.
“I can’t wait to get back and see them,” he said.
The wife sitting in Rock Hill, crying no more, can’t wait either.