“It”s been so hard and she”s been here the whole time”: Amazing love story of bomb disposal expert who lost arms and legs in Afghanistan blast and the girlfriend who has been at his side during remarkable recovery
Taylor Morris, 23, underwent quadruple amputation after being seriously injured during deployment in May Returned home to a hero”s welcome in Cedar Falls, Iowa less than three months after being wounded
Looking glamorous in evening dress, the picture of this happy young couple at a friend”s wedding is remarkable – when just a few months earlier, the soldier was lying in hospital after having his arms and legs amputated following an explosion in Afghanistan which almost killed him.
The astounding progress of 23-year-old Taylor Morris, a U.S. military bomb disposal expert, is testament to the unwavering support of his family, friends and girlfriend Danielle Kelly – who has been by his side every step of the way.
New photographs, taken by a friend in August, show just how far the Navy specialist has come since he almost died after stepping on an IED on May 3 this year.
Stronger together: Decorated veteran Taylor Morris and his girlfriend Danielle Kelly pictured at a friend”s wedding just four months after the soldier lost his arms and legs in an explosion in Afghanistan
Unwavering: Miss Kelly has helped 23-year-old Taylor come to terms with the devastating injuries he suffered in Afghanistan four months ago
The touching images show Taylor being carried up a flight of stairs on Danielle”s back and the couple working together on his rehabilitation exercises at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington D.C.
They are also pictured last month at a friend”s wedding in their hometown of Cedar Falls, Iowa, beaming at the camera and slow-dancing alongside friends.
Images also show Taylor visiting the White House on a day to honor veterans and lining up with fellow groomsmen at the wedding with the use of his new prosthetics.
The pictures were taken by the couple”s friend and photographer Tim Dodd. According to his blog, while receiving a Bronze Star with Valor at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Taylor paid tribute to Danielle saying: “If I had hands, I’d take this Bronze Star and pin it on Danielle.
“It’s been so hard and she’s been here the whole time.”
Road to recovery: Taylor and Danielle work together at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington D.C.
Courage: Danielle carries Taylor up the stairs and gives the decorated hero a hug
The homecoming on August 30 saw the residents of Cedar Falls line the streets with American flags to welcome the injured hero home.
After attending the wedding of friends and visiting family, the couple then returned to Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington D.C. to carry on with Taylor”s rehabilitation.
They plan to return home to attend a fundraiser on October 19 which is being organized via the Taylor Morris Community Support on Facebook.
On May 3, Taylor was leading a team of U.S. Army Special Forces to a classified locationnear Kandahar province when he stepped on an Improvised Explosive Device, which went off directly underneath him.
A hero”s welcome: The couple walk past the marque at the Oster Regent Theatre in their hometown of Cedar Falls, Iowa where it reads: “Taylor Morris, Hero, Welcome home”
Remarkable recovery: Taylor was fitted with prosthetic arms and legs in May and is well ahead of schedule with his progress
Since his story was featured on The Chive in May, readers have raised more than $250,000 for the young man to help him buy his dream home and plan for his future.
‘As soon as I stepped on it, I knew,’ he told John Resig, the co-owner of the websitewhich first told the story.
‘There was a moment, then I heard the blast. I felt the heat. I knew I had lost my legs. As I somersaulted through the air, I watched my legs fly off.’
Lean on me: The young couple have achieved their goal of owning a log cabin thanks to more than $250,000 of donations from those who were touched by Taylor”s bravery and sacrifice
Honored: Taylor and Danielle attend an event at the White House for veterans during the summer
Romance: Taylor and Danielle hold hands as he continues to make progress after being injured in Afghanistan earlier this year
Taylor landed back in the blast crater, but despite the horrific injuries he had sustained, he remained conscious and did not go into shock.
Even though the 23-year-old was bleedingprofusely from all four severed limbs, he called to the oncoming medicsto stay away from the site of the blast so as not to put them in dangerin case there were other mines around.
Thearea around the injured man was finally cleared by the second EOD specialist, and the medic finally administered combat casualty care. Morris remained alert throughout the whole ordeal.
Brave: Taylor Morris has been recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center from his injuries
Injured: Morris (right) was leading a team of U.S. Army Special Forces near Kandahar province when he stepped on an IED
Survivor: Morris was told that he was only the fifth patient at Walter Reed to have survived a four-limb amputation
‘They asked me how much it hurts on a scale of one to ten. I said, ‘Definitely a ten. It freaking hurts,’’ he recalled.
Medical crews and comrades were underfire as they came to his aid. They got him on a stretcher and he was evacuated by helicopter to a hospital in Kandahar and then to Germany.
Somewhere between those final two stops, Morris finally lost consciousness after a doctor administered a strong sedative.
Threedays later, on May 6, the 23-year-old arrived back in the U.S. and was transported to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, to begin the long and painful rehabilitation process.
Morris became only the fifth patient at the hospital to ever survive a four-limb amputation. So far, his progress has been aheadof schedule.
Phantom pains: Morris said he still has sensations in his arms and legs
Hero: Following the explosion, Morris told his comrades who rushed to his aid to stay away in case there were other mines around
Loved ones: Morris” girlfriend, Danielle Kelly (right), his mother, Julie (center), and his father, Dan (left), have been by his side at the hospital
‘My body is responding well,’ Morris said. ‘I”m already sitting up. I”m very fortunate.’
On May 30, the stitches in his arms were removed and he was fitted for prosthetics. The stitches in his legs were removed several days later.
Adventurer: Danielle Kelly (right) said he and Morris have always loved water sports and nature
Morris’ sisters, Molly and Claire, have been organizing fundraisers at home.
His brother, Riley, is serving in the Iowa National Guard, and his father, Dan, has been at the hospital with his son as often as work permits.
Morris has had visits from other wounded warriors; top military personnel, including the commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps; Congressman Bruce Braley and actor Joe Mantegna, an advocate for returning veterans.
While he said that his medical bills are covered, the 23-year-old man with a love of the great outdoors said that he has always dreamed of building a log cabin in the woods on a lake where he could live with his girlfriend, Danielle Kelly.
‘Taylor and I are both savers, and we had been working our butts off to ensure we”d have a cabin, close to water to do water sports, and places we can hike,’ Kelly said.
‘After what happened, we will not abandon that dream if it takes years of saving.’
The Chive invited viewers to make contributions toward Morris’ dream cabin, setting the goal at $30,000, but just 12 hours later, $143,000 had been raised through online donations at TaylorMorris.org.
Donations have now exceeded $250,000 and the family”s website was experiencing technical problems today because so many people were reading his remarkable story.
Cheques also may be made out to the Taylor Morris Recovery Fund at any Veridian Credit Union branch. Bracelets and T-shirts are available for sale at TaylorMorris.org, wheredonations can be made through PayPal.
Dream: Morris and Kelly hope to use the money raised online to build a log cabin on a lake