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Taylor Morris and Danielle Kelly are interviewed Monday, May 12, 2014, in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Taylor Morris and Danielle Kelly are back in town for good now after Taylor was officially discharged from Walter Reed two years after his injuries in Afghanistan

4) Taylor Morris returns home

Courier readers' top story of 2013 remained one of the top stories of 2014.

It was much more low key this year, but no less moving.

Taylor Morris and longtime girlfriend Danielle Kelly slipped quietly into Cedar Falls in early May -- two years to the day after Morris, a Navy explosive ordnance disposal expert, lost portions of all four limbs in a bomb blast in Afghanistan.

Morris and Kelly are home for good. He was officially discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after two years of rehabilitation, assisted by Kelly.

He'd made visible improvement from when he was first fitted with artificial limbs two years ago, even since he and Kelly were in town for the Aug. 3, 2013 benefit concert by actor Gary Sinise's Lt. Dan Band to raise money to build the couple an iPad-operated "smart home" to accommodate Morris' disabilities.

They're still looking for a site on which to build that home -- but it will definitely be in the Cedar Falls area.

He and Danielle celebrated Taylor's "alive day" -- the second anniversary of the explosion he survived.

It was much more low key than the August 2012 airport reception and motorcade when he first returned to town.

"But that was nice," he said of the support for him and all troops.

After two years of national attention, including an appearance on NBC's "Today" show, life was returning to normal.

But there was one more surprise in the offing -- at least for Kelly.

In September, Morris proposed marriage to Kelly during a picnic, planting an engagement ring in a container of ice cream he'd asked her to serve up for dessert.

"I didn't think he could surprise me any more," Kelly told The Courier. "He was as cool as a cucumber, and I had no idea."

Kelly said she and Morris are anticipating a wedding next fall. Morris is taking business classes at the University of Northern Iowa. Kelly, already with a bachelor's degree from the University of Iowa, is in the middle of an MBA program and is an active real estate broker.

 

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