'Just because he's lost a leg, it's not going to stop him'

'Just because he's lost a leg, it's not going to stop him'
TACOMA, Wash. -- The Mullee family's photos show two lives, intertwined, yet 7,000 miles apart.

The photos show Jennifer Mullee, at home in Pierce County, documenting her first pregnancy. Then there is Sgt. Drew Mullee, deployed to Afghanistan for his second tour of duty.

"This one was really hitting home," Jennifer said of Drew's deployment. "Probably because we are expecting. You're not just about you and him anymore; you're bringing another life in."

But Drew's deployment started slowly. Soldiers stepped into an eerie quiet with no action, no fighting. Three weeks passed.

"You could feel it change, right in the air. It felt different," Drew said.

Drew was on a team clearing out a compound where they suspected insurgents were building bombs.

"If we find IEDS -- the stuff they make it with, we save lives," he said. "We go in there, (and if) we find fingerprints, biometrics, we can find the people in the area making them."

Drew isn't sure how he found his bomb, but he remembers the blast like a bad dream.

"There was a loud noise, and I did what felt like a back flip in the air," he described. "Our medic said, 'Can you move your left foot?' And I moved my left foot. He said, 'Good.' And then he didn't say anything else.

"I was like, 'Why didn't he ask if I could move my right foot?"'

Halfway around the world, Jennifer woke up to a phone call.

"They don't pause," she said. "They continue to talk and go over their injuries, so it was definitely ... it took an hour for me to even comprehend what happened."

Drew and Jennifer reunited at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. His injuries were severe. He had shrapnel wounds, a heavily damaged left leg, and his right leg had to be amputated.

But his heart and soul were strong and set on recovery.

"We're going to have a baby," Drew said, "so my first goal was to be able to walk without falling. You know, (gaining) confidence in my ability to walk."

Before he can walk, Drew must regain strength in the rest of his body. He started with simple exercises and moved up in weights.

Then for the first time, he climbed onto a stationary bike with his new prosthetic leg. He went for seven minutes. It was a huge accomplishment.

Jennifer says it's Drew's way of "not letting them beat him."

"Just because he's lost a leg, it's not going to stop him from doing anything," Jennifer said.

In October came another life-changing moment: the birth of Drew and Jennifer's son, Easton, a pudgy cheeked charmer with blue eyes.

The Mullee family's photos now show three lives, intertwined. Father and son can cuddle up. But Drew had that goal -- to be able to walk when his son was born.

Months after our visit to Walter Reed, Jennifer sent us home video of Drew with Easton strapped onto his chest in a baby carrier.

Drew walks by the camera smiling, saying to Easton, "Can you say hi?"

Another milestone met.




For more stories like Drew's, join us on Christmas at 6:30 when the KOMO Problem Solvers present "Healing our Heroes." KOMO 4's Molly Shen will take you from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to Madigan Army Medical Center. You'll see stories of soldiers overcoming devastating injuries and meet the people devoted to helping them recover. Find out about the latest techniques to treat pain and how advances in military medicine also help civilians.