Family Remembers Oklahoma Marine Who Saved Friend From Burning Plane
ENID, Oklahoma - One of Oklahoma's finest is being hailed a hero after sacrificing his own life to save a friend's.
Austin Anderson, an Iraq war veteran and ORU graduate, was one of four people killed in a plane crash over the weekend in Kansas.
Friends say he died the way he lived - selflessly. His family and friends share what he meant to them.
Anderson is from a small town near Enid called Ringwood and by all accounts, he was a hometown hero. Sooner born and Christian bred, Austin Anderson was loved for so many different reasons.
"It didn't even have to be major, but he could always make a major thing fun," Austin's mom Mary Anderson said.
His mother, brother and sister say Anderson truly lived for others. Every summer, Anderson returned home to Ringwood, just outside Enid, to coach youth sports teams.
He also challenged his siblings to love harder and was a true mentor in hard work and perseverance.
"Austin always strived for excellence in everything that he did and he always pushed others to do the same," Austin's brother Aubrey Anderson said.
"I thought my older brother was perfect and at the end of the day, he would always ask himself, ‘How can I do better?'" Austin's sister Allie Anderson said.
Anderson was 27 years old and served two tours of duty in Iraq with the U.S. Marines before enrolling at Oral Roberts University.
He had wanted to go to school there since he was 8. Just a week before his death, Anderson graduated with honors from ORU's School of Business.
He was excited to start a new chapter in his life.
"I have no clue what I'm going to do next," Aubrey Anderson said. "Austin was always like, ‘Don't worry bro, I got you. Follow me; we'll get through this,'"
Anderson spoke passionately about meeting his maker one day... and the peace that God gave him.
According to a friend, Anderson pulled 22-year-old Hannah Luce from the burning plane. She's now the only survivor.
"To us, it was awesome because we knew he had that strength and we knew that about him and he always thought of other people before he thought of himself," Mary Anderson said.
Those he loved the most say they aren't surprised that even in his last moments, Anderson put others before himself.