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Hawkinsville Marine Tony Mullis Running Again | News

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Hawkinsville Marine Tony Mullis Running Again
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One year ago Friday, a Hawkinsville Marine set out on a mission to clear explosives in a northern Afghan town.

He left that day filled with the pride of just becoming a father. His son was born the night before.

Mullis would not come back from that mission the same man. He did make it to the only place he ever wants to be, and that's home.

The Hawkinsville High school stadium brings back many memories for Tony and Jeannie Mullis. It is where they met, and where they want their son, who turned a year old Thursday, to go to school.

Father and son are inseparable now, but Tony heard Cason's first cries over a satellite phone, while he was in Afghanistan.

Mullis said, "It was sad, because I wasn't there, but I was happy because I have son."

The next day, a bomb blast during a mission to secure a bunker nearly stole his chance at the honor of being a father. He said, "I was conscious the whole time. I remember everything. As soon as it went off. I hit the roof, landed on my back. I was looking at my body to see what all was physically wrong. I knew everything done went wrong."

He saw that the bomb severed both legs from his body. Tony said he thought, "I realize, oh man, I'm an amputee. I didn't care if God wanted to take me, if it was time, I just wanted to see my son and wife, one time."

Mullis would get the chance to do that and much more.

Five months after the explosion, doctors gave him a gift he once took for granted. They gave him new legs.

Tony said, "When I got them, I was excited. It was like Christmas."

He said learning how to use them felt more like torture. Tony said, "It hurt. It was hard to get used to the legs. It was the pain. It made you want to give up."

Tony found it easier to skip rehab at the Naval Hospital in Maryland and play with Cason on the ground. Then, he saw why he needed to get up.

He said, "He used to walk on his knees. I think he used to copy me, because I'd get on the floor and walk on my nubs."

A lot of stumbles and a few falls later, father and son stood up together. Tony said, "Now, I'm able to hold his hand and walk with him. It's awesome to be able to do that. I can pick him up and hold him and walk. I trust myself. I trust my legs."

Walking restored his confidence and his humor. Laughing, he said, "We play around. We do that whole Lt. Dan thing, where he slaps his leg and like, this is titanium alloy. We do that all the time."

He's got plenty of chances to laugh about his "new normal'. Tony now chooses from six different pairs of legs.

He said, "I have to change out legs, depending on what I'm doing. Instead of changing shoes, I change legs."

Thursday, he showed off his "running legs" on the Hawkinsville High School track.

For now, he is outpacing his competition and his inspiration, his son Cason.

The Mullis's are home in Hawkinsville for a few weeks but will return to the hospital in Maryland. Tony still has about four months of rehab.

He says once he's discharged from the Marines, a veterans organization has offered to build them a home in Hawkinsville.

Mullis wants to start a hunting show with two other amputees, to show other wounded warriors that anything is possible.

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