By Camaron Abundes
SAN ANTONIO- It's been exactly one year since an IED blast in Iraq, nearly killed McCamey native, Staff Sergeant Shilo Harris. Three of the men with SSG Harris during the IED blast died in the explosion. The explosion reduced the army vehicle, to scrap metal. SSG Harris was burned on 35 percent of his body.
"I could see myself smoking, and I could see it burning my legs," said SSG Harris, "One of my buddies grabbed me, and he actually saved my life. There were bullets flying, and we thought we were under direct fire."
Instead the blast set off rounds of ammunition still in the truck. SSG Harris says even though his memory of the attack is fuzzy he remembers when he knew he would have to fight to live.
"I looked at my hand, it looked just like a skeleton hand, and that's when I realized I was really, really hurt," said SSG Harris.
Since the accident, SSG Harris doesn't take even the simplest things for granite.
"Something as simple as blowing your nose. I remember when I couldn't even blow my own nose," he said, "When I hear my little girls voice, when I see her smile, and I see my boys I see them smile, and I get to go out there and play with them, I know how fortunate I am, and I am very thankful, very thankful for it," Harris said.
The power of the blast ripped SSG Harris's helmet, as it flew off it ripped off both of his ears. The flames burned his muscle and skin on his arms, hands, and face.
"I can still look in Shilo's eyes, and I can still see his inside that never changed and it shows me, love can take you through things you never thought you could get through before, and it gives you strength that nothing else can, and I thank God for that every day," Kathreyn Harris, SSG Harris's wife, said.
SSG Harris has come a long way since the accident. He is starting to run and do physical therapy. In the Harris household humor, optimism, and the power of unconditional love are helping SSG Harris heal.
"I push myself each and every day to get stronger and stronger for my family," SSG Harris said.
The love of family and country are deep rooted, inspired by the generations before him. SSG Harris allowed our cameras to roll as he visited his grandfather's grave site at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio.
"I could have easily had a plot out here not too far from my grandfather," said SSG Harris.
As Shilo pays his final respects, his father Allen Harris, stands nearby holding tightly to dog tags with Shilo's picture.