RUSK, TX (KLTV) - Gene Mahan is one of those legendary Marines who refused to die in war, although he was wounded five times.
Mahan joined the Marine Corps at the age of 15, after forging papers about his age. In many ways Mahan was older than his years, earning his pilot's license at 13 and out on his own before that.
World war II was in full swing in 1944 when Mahan was sent to Greece where he earned the first of five purple hearts for a foot wound he refers to as "a scratch." Mahan's later purple hearts were to be for much more than just scratches.
It was at Korea's Chosen Reservoir that one of the bloodiest battles of the Korean War took place. Because there were no airplanes to fly when Mahan arrived in Korea in 1951, he and other pilots were assigned to ground forces.
American forces were overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of the enemy they faced. Although Mahan was wounded in the battle, he was saved by a strange quirk of fate.
"He stood up with half of his head gone and fell over me so now I'm protected from two ways," explained Mahan. "When they finally got to us, the Army Rescue Corps...Corporal Underwood had been shot five more times and bayoneted once. They just didn't realize I was under him."
Mahan was sent to Japan to recover from his wounds and then sent back to Korea.
Still there were no planes for him to fly until he and his fellow pilots rebuilt some planes from salvaged parts. The Corsair Mahan flew was basically a fighter plane with light bombing capabilities. It was on a bombing mission that Mahan received his third wound.
But Mahan's date with purple hearts was not yet ended.
"The hour I got back was one of the largest air invasions that we'd ever had so we were all in the air and I came back with a couple more holes in myself and 21 holes in the aircraft," he said.
Once again Mahan was sent to Japan for treatment and recuperation. He thought that war was finally over for him. But there was to be one last mission that would leave him pronounced dead, and an out of body experience that would leave him forever changed. We'll share that experience with you on next week's Freedom Fighters.
Friday, May 24 2013 10:21 PM EDT2013-05-25 02:21:23 GMT
From the Tyler Police Department:At approximately 5:20Pm on May 24, 2013, Tyler Police were notified of the motorcycle accident at Grande and Sutherland. The driver of a black Ford F-150 was heading east onMore >>
Rider was not wearing a helmet when she collided with a truck.More >>
Saturday, May 25 2013 9:18 AM EDT2013-05-25 13:18:01 GMT
Cherokee County authorities are investigating a fatal house fire Friday night. It happened just before 7:30 on County Road 3302 outside of Jacksonville. The Jacksonville Fire Department, Cherokee CountyMore >>
Happened just outside of Jacksonville on Friday night.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 9:59 PM EDT2013-05-25 01:59:21 GMT
A Tyler ISD bus driver was arrested Friday afternoon on drug charges.Ronald Gain, 44, of Tyler, was arrested by the Tyler Police Department on one charge of possession of a controlled substance. TylerMore >>
Has worked for the district since August of 2012.More >>