Biographical / Historical
Joseph "Joe" Alfred McMahan was born to Clyde McMahan, a farmer, and Vinnie M. McMahan on 17 August 1921. His older brother Arthur Cletus "Bud" McMahan was born 7 July 1917. The two McMahan brothers grew up on a farm, along with two sisters, in Haskell County, Texas during the Great Depression. Joe attended the Harvard Country School, and graduated from Paint Creek High School in 1940. Upon graduation, Joe found employment in the Civilian Conservation Corps. Arthur was one of the first groups of men to be drafted for the United States Army during World War II; Joe was drafted later and was sworn into the Army Medics on 9 February 1943 at Fort Wolters in Mineral Wells, Texas.
Arthur served in the 7th Infantry, earning the title of Technical Sergeant 2nd Grade. He did his military training in the deserts of California, where he was also a part of the 159th Infantry Regiment; the Replacement and School Command; and possibly the 40th Infantry Division, and the 4th Army, as those all served as a makeshift National Guard along the West Coast. Arthur, and the 7th Infantry were shipped up to the Aleutian Islands, and after defeating the Japanese militia, were sent to Hawaii; the Philippines; and finally Okinawa, Japan. Arthur died on 16 June 1947, of Melanoma skin cancer.
After Joe was sworn into the Army Medical Corps, he was sent to basic training at Joseph T. Robinson Medical Training Replacement Center, in Little Rock, Arkansas. He was there for thirteen weeks learning first-aid skills. He was then sent to Los Angeles, California, where he boarded the U.S.S. Comfort, a Navy Ship being used as an Army Hospital, with the rank of Army Medic T-5. The U.S.S. Comfort left California for Brisbane, Australia, on 21 June 1944. While on the ship, Joe worked in the medical supplies, sterilizing and preparing bandages and I.V. sets. The U.S.S. Comfort was a white ship with large Red Cross markings, signifying that it was a non-combat hospital vessel. The U.S.S. Comfort sailed without any combatant escorts, and on 28 April 1945, just off of the coast of Okinawa, Japan, the U.S.S. Comfort was attacked by a Kamikaze plane. The plane flew into the starboard side of the smokestacks, just south of a surgery room, killing five doctors and six nurses instantly. Joe rescued a nurse, who was badly injured, from a supply room. Joe was also injured, but was unaware of his injuries at the time. The official military report on casualties is: 20 Army and two Navy personnel killed, seven patients killed, 31 Army and seven Navy personnel injured, ten patients injured, and one missing Army personnel. The Navy Chaplain died of injuries eight days later. Joe was honorably discharged from the Army on 26 December 1945, at Ft. Sam Houston, taking home multiple awards including the Purple Heart.
Joe took care of Arthur until his passing, and then Joe went back to farming. He was married on 5 February 1949, had three children. He worked for the V.A. Hospitals in McKinney and Dallas, Texas and later worked as a Federal Meat Inspector in Ft. Worth. He retired 31 December 1984, and moved to Commerce, Texas.
An Interview with Joe McMahan, OH 999, Texas A