ROCK HILL, S.C. -- A Rock Hill soldier injured in Afghanistan returned home for the first time Sunday, to a cheering crowd that left him speechless and overwhelmed.
"I'm just amazed at how many people are out here to support it," said Spc. Michael Millwood, as he looked out among the crowd of well-wishers.
Friends, neighbors, and others who wanted to show their support for the injured soldier lined the streets outside his neighborhood and in it as his caravan drove in.
More than 250 motorcycles from the Patriot Guard and Rolling Thunder led the way, along with community fire trucks and cars full of friends and family members.
They brought Millwood right to his grandparents' driveway, where tents and balloons and a banner reading, "Welcome Home SPC Michael Millwood" greeted him. So did about a hundred well-wishers.
Organizer Leanne Pressley said she made just a few phone calls, and the celebration ballooned from there. Everyone wanted to take part.
“Once I started making phone calls, and this is what you get,” she said, gesturing to the crowd around her. “You get the support of the community.”
Millwood was shot during a firefight in Afghanistan on May 23rd. The bullet shattered his femur and sciatic nerve.
He spent 5 days in a hospital in Germany undergoing surgery, before being transferred to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Maryland.
His wife and family joined him there, as he underwent another surgery. He now has a pin running from his knee up his thighbone.
Millwood admitted being in pain after the long ride from Bethesda, but is glad to be home.
“Just amazed at how many people are out here to support it,” he said. “They kept it a secret from me so I didn't expect it at all.”
His wife DeAnna is also impressed – even overwhelmed.
“He's a really amazing man,” she said, bouncing the couple’s six-month-old son in her arms. “I don't see why anyone wouldn't come out and support him.”
After two weeks of R & R, Millwood will head back to Walter Reed with DeAnna, daughter Aliyah, 4, and son Michael.
DeAnna Millwood said they will spend a year or two there doing more rehab and recovery, as they decide what comes next.
Millwood hasn't decide if he'll stay in the army; he's served five years already. But despite all the attention on him Sunday, his thoughts were with other soldiers overseas.
“It wasn’t a fun vacation,” he said. “I hope my brothers who are still over there make it home safely.”