ALLEGANY, N.Y. (WIVB) — Western New York Native Major Patrick Miller returned home to the Buffalo Niagara International Airport to a hero’s welcome Friday.
It was a moment he had longed for, coming home to family and friends whose love and support helped him recover from a bullet wound to the abdomen.
“You know, at one point, not knowing you’re going to see them again was a surreal feeling,” said Miller.
He was shot point blank during a shooting rampage by Specialist Ivan Lopez, who killed three soldiers and wounded 15 others at Fort Hood. Major Miller somehow managed to call 911 and come to the aid to the soldiers around him after he was shot. He is being welcomed as a hero.
“I don’t consider myself a hero at all,” he said, who had earlier served two tours of duty in Iraq. “It’s the people that don’t come home that make the ultimate sacrifice and don’t get the welcome home ceremony and the parades, those are the true heroes.”
There were many hugs, tears, and quiet words exchanged with close friends during those first intense emotional moments when Miller arrived home.
Allegany is a tight-knit community where friendship last a lifetime. Patrick’s father commented “His friends are my family. We’re all extended family, and really, we were before he got shot, so nothing surprises me.”
The Patriot Guard created a flag draped pathway for Miller and his wife Ashely, announcing to all travelers at the airport: “We’re in the presence of a live American hero.”
Ashley had been at his bedside after the shooting. She prayed for him and talked to him, even as he was in and out of consciousness. She says this homecoming means so much to him.
Quoting her husband, she said “‘Every day, every day, I can’t wait to go home! Can we just fast forward this week? Can we just go home. I want to see everybody, thank everybody.'”
While talking with reporters, Miller said, “I just want to say a heartfelt thank you. I get the messages, I get the cards. I ready every single word and I thank you from the bottom of my heart because it made a difference in my recovery.”
A VIP limo bus awaited Miller, and with the Patriot Guard riders as escorts, he made his way home to Allegany in Cattaraugus County, where a party awaited him.