Updated: 06/27/2014 9:53 PM
Created: 06/27/2014 4:55 AM WHEC.com
By: Berkeley Brean
Loved ones celebrated the return of an Army major who took a bullet in the shooting at Fort Hood three months ago.
Months after he was shot in the stomach by a gunman, Major Patrick Miller returned home Friday. Back in April, the military says Army Specialist Ivan Lopez opened fire at Fort Hood, Texas, killing three people before turning the gun on himself.
Major Miller was one of the people who jumped into action. Despite being injured himself, Major Miller moved other soldiers behind an office door to keep them safe as shots were fired.
Major Miller arrived at the Buffalo Airport Friday afternoon. From there, the Allegany, New York native traveled back to his hometown for a real welcome home ceremony.
Major Miller is home for the first time in years. He was greeted by some children who had handmade cards for him. Major Miller thanked the Patriot Guard that led him home. They also thanked him for his service. Major Miller posed for pictures with his wife and the rest of the guard. He then took a moment to talk to News10NBC.
Major Miller said, “I came down that road so many times in 32 years and never had the feeling like just a minute ago. When it comes so close to not being around and thinking you're not going to see these people again, not walk down Main Street again or stop at the Burton or see at Bonaventure, you get a little emotional.”
Berkeley Brean asked, “When you're facing down that shooter and you see him, what are you thinking and what are you looking at?”
Major Miller said, “Just, you don't think. I didn't think. You just react and without sounding too vague, I just wanted to save as many people as I could who were in there. I replay it over in my mind many times. I could have just shut my office door and been done, called 911 and been fine, but if you didn't, it's almost guaranteed more people would have been hurt or killed.”
Homecoming at the Buffalo Airport
The anticipation was overwhelming at the Buffalo Airport as friends, family and even complete strangers waited for Major Patrick Miller.
Patricia Miller, grandmother of Major Miller, said, “I haven’t seen him since he was wounded. My prayers have been with him.”
It’s the first time the western New York soldier has seen his friends and many of his family members since he was injured during a mass shooting at Fort Hood in Texas on April 2.
Matt Miller, brother of Major Miller, said, “I'm excited to see my brother. Ever since he got shot, we were by his side 16, 17, 18 hours later, we drove from Kansas City.”
Mike Grader, friend of Major Miller, said, “Pat would be the one to jump on the grenade for us, he's always been like that.”
It was an emotional homecoming for all. Nearly three months after he was shot in the stomach, had three surgeries, Miller finally returned and what a return it was.
Major Patrick Miller said, “Just coming into the airport was crazy to seeing people you know, family and friends here, seeing them for the first time since. You know, at one point, not knowing you're not going to see them again. It's a surreal feeling. It's awesome.”
Despite a gunman shooting at him and getting hit in the stomach, Miller was able to put pressure on the wound, call 911 and lead seven people to safety. But he doesn’t consider himself a hero.
Major Patrick Miller said, “I don't consider myself a hero at all. It's the people that don't come home that make the ultimate sacrifice and you know, that don't get the welcome home ceremony, those are the true heroes. If we're talking about April 2, then 2nd First Class Daniel Ferguson, Carlos Lazeney Rodriguez and Timothy Owens, who perished on that day, those are the true heroes along with my brothers and sisters who didn't make it with me.”
Major Miller is back for Old Home Week. He is the grand marshal for the parade on Saturday.