Pop Culture

Mike Rowe, 'Dirty Jobs' host, inspired after meeting amputee vet

Mike Rowe, former host of the Discovery Channel show "Dirty Jobs," shared a Memorial Day weekend Facebook post that put the holiday into perspective for many.


Travis Mills lost parts of all four limbs when an improvised explosive device went off while he was on active duty in Afghanistan in 2012. As his website notes, he's one of only five quadruple amputees from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to survive his injuries. He is the subject of the 2013 documentary, "Travis: A Soldier's Story."

He's also a big "Dirty Jobs" fan who met Rowe a few weeks ago at an event in Washington. Rowe wrote that his first sight of Mills, and his handshake of the retired sergeant's plastic hand, stunned him.

"I’ve seen a lot of things over the years, and I’ve gotten good at pretending there’s nothing unusual when there clearly is," Rowe said. "But I was completely unprepared for this."

The host explained to Mills that "Dirty Jobs" was canceled in 2012, but that he was working on a new show ("Somebody's Gotta Do It"). According to Rowe, Mills responded with enthusiasm, saying, “Hey, that’s great! I got new legs and you got a new show! Tell me all about it!”

Rowe said he spent a half-hour talking with Mills, and at one point, asked him why he didn't appear in any of the typical PSAs featuring wounded vets. Mills said he didn't consider himself to be wounded, telling Rowe, “I’m not a victim, Mike. And I refuse to be portrayed that way. Case closed.” 

Meeting Mills forced Rowe to face up to some truths, the TV host wrote.

"Fact is, Travis is missing more than a few original parts; he’s missing all traces of self-pity," Rowe wrote. "And that presents a challenge for mortals like me. Because it’s a hell of a thing to feel put out because a crowd of fans are making me late for an important meeting, and then listen to a guy with no arms or legs tell me how lucky he is, and how much he appreciates all my hard work. 

"That’s called a gut-check, and I could use one from time to time. Especially on Memorial Day, when the biggest decisions I face are what to grill and which type of frosty beverage to enjoy. This year, as I resolve these and other important issues, I’ll think of Travis Mills. A guy who went out on a limb for me, in every way possible."

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