West Seneca Marine Awarded Purple Heart

February 22, 2012 Updated Feb 22, 2012 at 9:43 PM EDT

By Ed Reilly

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February 22, 2012 Updated Feb 22, 2012 at 9:43 PM EDT

(West Seneca, NY) It was supposed to be a routine patrol, but Marine Sergeant Michael McMahon said he had "a bad feeling."

Sgt. McMahon was walking through farm fields in southern Afghanistan last August, and carrying communications equipment.

"All of a sudden, I got hit right in the leg. It was the first shot of the engagement."

The snipers bullet severed the femoral artery in McMahon's leg.

"I got down and looked at the wound, then looked at the sky, and I felt the blood coming out."

Luckily, a 19-year old Navy corpsman, serving in combat for the first time, performed emergency first aid and saved the West Seneca man's life.

"The corpsman came out of nowhere and had tourniquets in his hand."

Sgt. McMahon was taken to a British hospital where surgeons took pieces of artery from his arm and transplanted them into his leg."

"They saved his life," adds his father, Mark McMahon.

Currently, the 26-year old Marine is back at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina recovering.

Wednesday morning, a special ceremony was held honoring members of Sgt. McMahon's unit; The First Battalion, 6th Regiment.

As part of the ceremony, the Purple Heart was awarded to Sgt. Michael McMahon.

The Purple Heart is the military's oldest award with origins that date back to George Washington.

The presentation at Camp Lejeune had special significance because it was done on Washington's birthday.

"Just keep praying for our boys over there. Pray for them, their safety, and bring them home soon," says Peggy McMahon, Michael's mother.

Sgt. Michael McMahon is hoping that he will be healthy enough to return to Western New York with his wife, Sara, and two young boys, for a visit in March.