(RNN) - In a story of true American heroism, a Navy explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) specialist who was severely injured while serving in Afghanistan is teaching America how to hope, love, and persevere in the wake of adversity.
In May, Navy EOD Spc. Taylor Morris was leading a special operations forces team to a classified location when he stepped on an undetected improvised explosive device and lost all four of his limbs.
"As soon as I stepped on it, I knew. 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," Morris said in an interview with The Chive.
Morris lost both of his legs, his left arm from the bicep down, and his right hand. The explosion failed to knock him unconscious, but instead of giving into the pain, Morris focused on his comrades.
He stopped the medical team from coming to his rescue until the area could be cleared, in order to protect the lives of those around him. He also asked his partner to call his family and his girlfriend to inform them of what had just happened.
A few days later, Morris was transferred to the Walter Reed Hospital in Bethesda, MD, where he would become the fifth person in the history of the hospital to survive a four limb amputation.
Four months after his tragic accident and in the midst of a long and painful rehabilitation process, Morris has done anything but give up.
One of his friends, Tim Dodd, who is a professional photographer and also chronicles Morris' journey on his blog, wrote that from time to time Morris will break the rules just to get more therapy time in.
"He said he didn't even break a sweat with his therapist and wanted more time on the legs. We snuck back in, put his legs on and walked at least a mile and a half," Dodd wrote.
Part of Morris' relentless attitude is due to the endless support and love that he receives from his longtime girlfriend, Danielle Kelly. Kelly and Morris are high school sweethearts and even great adversity could not break their bond.
Kelly quit a job she had received a few days prior to Morris' accident in order to be by his side. And she hasn't left it since. She is just as big of a part of Morris' healing as the doctors are.
"Most days it's in and out of physical therapy, wound care and the prosthetic lab. Danielle is always there and takes as much of the events on herself as she can," Dodd wrote in his blog. "My favorite thing is how even during these routines, they still find time to flirt and continue showing their love to one another constantly."
Through the help of doctors and encouragement from loved ones, Morris has made great progress. He is learning to walk on the most advanced legs offered, the Otto Bock x2s. The x2s have a passive knee joint that can guess what Morris is attempting to do based on where the pressure is on his feet.
Using his new legs, Morris was recently able to make a trip home to Cedar Valley, IA, for a friend's wedding where he was greeted with a homecoming parade and by the end of the trip was even able to share a slow dance with Kelly.
Morris' family has set up the Taylor Morris Recovery Fund to help him pay off secondary expenses beyond the medical expenses that are covered by insurance and assistance from the Navy. They are holding their first official event, "Unstoppable," on Oct. 19 at the Park Place Events Centre in Cedar Falls, IA.
If you would like to follow Taylor's progress or donate to the Taylor Morris Recovery Fund, visit taylormorris.org.
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