Colonel Frank Lewis Mahan, M.D., from Panama, Oklahoma passed away Tuesday, October 30, 2012. He was born June 14, 1924 to Granville “Pete” Mahan and Earnestine Graf Mahan in Picher, Oklahoma.
He was attending Wilburton Junior College, working for the National Youth Administration, listening to the radio when he learned that Pearl Harbor had been bombed by the Japanese. Shortly thereafter he enlisted in the United States Navy being assigned to the U.S.S. Blue DD 387 and was promoted to Pharmacy Mate First Class. He then provided bombing support to the 5th fleet under Admiral Halsey and then the 3rd fleet under Admiral Spruce in the Philippines, Guam, Luzon, Iwo Jima and Tokyo Bay. He was also involved in the largest armada of ships ever assembled, DesRon 61, and was also present for the VJ Day formal surrender on the U.S.S. Missouri. During his naval career, Frank received several service and campaign medals including seven battle stars and the Navy good conduct medal. He was honorably discharged in 1946. For many years, Frank did not talk about his experiences during the war, until after returning from two trips from the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., once with the Oklahoma Honor flights. He attended the University of Oklahoma and was admitted into the OU Medical School where he met Jean Gaedka, a nursing student and they married on July 9, 1952. With Frank and Jean being only children, they decided to have four. Upon completion of medical school in 1953, he reentered the service (USAF) and was stationed at Walter Reed Medical Hospital where he completed his anesthesiology residency in 1957. In 1961, Frank was assigned as a member of the medical recovery team in the Astronaut program, first for the Mercury Seven and then the Gemini project. In 1963, he was called to Otis AFB where he attended to Jackie Kennedy during the birth of Patrick Kennedy and was credited with resuscitating Patrick and was asked by the President and First Lady to escort the child to Boston. Before retiring in 1971, Frank received many more medals from the Air Force including the Air Force Commendation and the Meritorious Service Medal. Much to Jean’s surprise, Frank moved his family to Muskogee where he became the first board certified anesthesiologist at Muskogee General Hospital. Frank retired in 1986 and continued doing locum tenens until 1991. During his free time, Frank enjoyed spending time with his friends on fishing trips traveling from Alaska to Mexico. He also enjoyed skiing in Europe, Colorado, and Nevada. Three of the things from his career that Frank was most proud of was working for the astronaut program, helping Jackie Kennedy, and traveling around the world TWICE. “Not many Oklahoma farm boys can say that!”
Frank was preceded in death by his wife Jean.
He is survived by his children, Martha J. Mahan, Michael T. Mahan, Nancy L. Walters, and Pete M. Mahan; his grandchildren, Michael L. Mahan, Tyler T. Walters, Amy R. Walters, and Peyton M. Mahan.
A private family graveside service is planned for 2:00 p.m., Friday, November 2, 2012 at Fort Gibson National Cemetery. The family will receive friends at the home after the service.
To honor Frank’s memory, please contribute to the Oklahoma Honor Flight for World War II veterans at:
Oklahoma Honor Flights
PO Box 10492
Midwest City, OK 73140
Funeral services are under the direction of Cornerstone Funeral Home and Crematory, 1830 North York Street, Muskogee, OK. Condolences may be sent to the family at www.cornerstoneofmuskogee.com