KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A man who is now the Jackson County Undersheriff, is telling the story of his past on a national television platform.
For 26 years Hugh Mills was a combat pilot in the U.S. Army, and next week his story is being featured on the American Heroes channel.
"I was shot down 16 times in the course of my career," said Mills, who before being undersheriff and after his time in the army, spent 24 years flying a helicopter for KCPD.
But he says the three tours he served in Vietnam are what make him who he is today.
"I was shot in the right heel, I was shot in the right hip, and then I was shot in the face, went through my chin and out the side of my face," Mills said.
His unit's primary job in 1969 was tracking enemy troops; a very dangerous task.
"Of the ten pilots that began with me in February of '69, two of us were left alive in December," he said.
Based on his service in Vietnam, he was inducted into the Army Aviation Hall of Fame.
"Part of that included the army restoring the last aircraft that I flew which happened to be in the collection of the Army Aviation Museum," said Mills.
It was this which caught the attention of the producers of the show.
"I shared a personal story about a religious artifact that was given to me prior to going to Vietnam and that I treasured the whole time I was there," Mills said.
He talks about a day in 1969 when this religious artifact came into play.
"Twenty-five American soldiers were trapped in single bomb crater surrounded by enemy forces," said Mills. "Three men were separated from the rest of the group and one of those individuals was shot in the head."
They couldn't get badly needed blood to save his life, so his unit had to perform a dangerous maneuver.
"We would have to come to a hover directly over about 200 enemy soldiers, there was a North Vietnamese soldier standing in a trench and he was aiming an AK47 right at me," said Mills. "My initial impression was ‘this is how I’m going to die’…for reasons that I still can't explain, he did not fire."
Mills says there was someone looking over him that day.
The show, Secrets of the Arsenal, will air on January 20 at 8:00 p.m. on the American Heroes Channel.