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KILLEEN, Texas – It has been five years since Army Maj. Patrick W. Miller has been in the Cattaraugus County Village of Allegany for the annual Old Home Week, and he can’t wait to get back Friday.

His family and friends can’t wait to see him and his wife, Ashley, either.

They want to shake the hand of the man credited with saving lives after he was shot in the abdomen at point-blank range at Fort Hood here. And they want to hug Ashley, who was by his side during some of the darkest days.

This is his first trip home since being critically wounded when shot by Spc. Ivan Lopez, who killed three soldiers and wounded 15 others before taking his own life after the April 2 rampage.

While his community and top brass call him a hero for his actions helping others at the scene that day, Miller said in an interview with The Buffalo News that the real heroes are those who make the ultimate sacrifice and don’t get to go home to their families or have the welcome-home ceremony and parade. His family and friends say it’s not surprising that he would run toward trouble and try to help.

“That’s just his personality,” Ashley Miller said. “That’s just the way he is.”

Miller, 32, who is the comptroller for the First Medical Brigade, returned to work earlier this month to wrap up his job before he goes to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., next month. He has been accepted into the Command and General Staff College for a 10-month graduate-level course of study.

But first, it’s home to Western New York for the avid Bills and Sabres fan.

He will be the grand marshal in the Old Home Week parade Saturday evening, the same event he never missed when he was growing up in Allegany.

He said he can’t promise not to be emotional.

“I go to bed thinking about it,” he said of coming home. “Don’t judge me if I get off the airplane and shed a tear.”

Friday, The News will publish a full interview with Miller, who tells his story of survival and recovery.

email: bobrien@buffnews.com