RUSK, TX (KLTV) - Gene Mahan had one more bombing mission to complete in Korea before gong home. He was sure nothing more could happen to him. After all, he had already been wounded four times. But Mahan had one more Purple Heart waiting for him and this one would be the most devastating of all.
On His way back to base after completing his mission, the engine of Mahan's plane went out and he was forced to bail out over the Sea of Japan. During ejection, his leg was caught in the upside down plane and pulled back over his head. The water he fell into was so cold, Mahan had only seven minutes to live before being rescued just in time by an American destroyer.
Mahan remembers very little until his "out of body experience" in a Japanese operating room. As he was floating above the scene, he heard the doctor say "he's gone." As Mahan struggled to let the doctor know he was alive, he saw a little Korean girl leading his Marine company through a field. He cried out "wait for me" but a voice behind him said "not yet Lieutenant". Mahan's body began to sweat and at that point the doctor realized he was alive.
During months of recuperation Mahan was awarded his fifth Purple Heart by President Harry S. Truman and invited to the Whitehouse where he was presented a Silver Star in a special ceremony.