WACO, Texas (KWTX) Despite injuries that left him recovering for a year, Edward J. Mullen served in the Army for decades, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Mullen's superiors saw something special in him from the time he joined the Army.
In fact his captain at Fort Polk, Louisiana ordered him to take a test for Officer Candidate School and he passed.
"I wasn't old enough to shave, I was 20 years old," he told us.
Mullen went to Fort Benning, Georgia in 1966 and learned not only a new set of skills, but a new way to think and feel.
"They got you out of your childhood thoughts and got you into the 'Army' Army and prepared you to go to lead men in combat and it was pretty intense," he told us.
And there was a price.
"When I look back now and think about that time, shortly after I was wounded, I feel like I was nevery young," he explained.
He arrived in South Vietnam in 1967 for a tour that would call upon every bit of endurance he had.
"The whole time I was there I was leading soldiers in combat. We went one time with 93 days of straight firefights," he said, "it's probably like playing a football game for 93 straight days, you're blocking and tackling, blocking and tackling every day."
But he did everything in his power to take care of his men.
"I was fortunate not to lose any men, until the last day, and I lost all my men," he told us, "it was a big multi-unit fight going up a hill, it's like watching a movie really: sitting up on top of this big mountain watching this big fight going on, up in the air, below us, sideways."
And the enemy's bulletts found him too.
"I got shot down in a big field and later was saved by some other guys," he explained.
He was shot in the arm and leg and spent a year recovering, relearning basic functions like how to walk and how to write.
"I had to hearn how to be ambidextrous, lost part of my hand, part of my foot," he told us.
But after he healed Mullen was sent back to the exact same place, this time as a captain with his own company.
He came home and remained in the Army a total of 21 years, retiring as a lieutenant colonel from Fort Hood in 1987.
Even after that he kept on serving his community as mayor of Harker Heights and he discovered there were battles to fight on the homefront too.
"I saw at that time when I was mayor, so many families destroyed by war, a wife crying on my shoulder, families and funerals and Purple Heart ceremonies," he said, "what changed me and made me join the Purple Heart society and try to do all I could to help soldiers was watching those families."
As a Purple Heart recipient he joined the Military Order of the Purple Heart
It's an organization that provides services for veterans and their families including financial assistance and scholarships.
And it works with other organizations to address the needs of the community.
Mullen is heavily involved with the Rotary Club too.
He said, "we sponsor the Intrepid Center at Fort Hood which is the rehabilitation center for TBI and PTSD at Fort Hood."
Mullen says the best thing you can do for veterans in your community is be a good citizen and help where it's needed, following the example of veterans who continue to serve.
"These folks are a unifying force for our citizens, not just those who are in the Army or veterans but for the whole city," he said.