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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A local military veteran is recovering from a gunshot wound to the face after he was shot while trying to help others.

Ralph Tackett, 49, spent hours in surgery Monday.

"They got the bullet out, he's got three plates in his jaw, three titanium plates and he's going to need more surgeries," said Sandy Tackett, the victim's wife.

According to a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office police report, Tackett heard a car crash outside his home on Fort Caroline Road Saturday morning. He got in his car to drive out and help when he saw the crashed Silver Pontiac Grand Prix and three men walking towards him, waiving him down.

"They asked him for a tire, he said 'a tire? I think you need more than a tire,'" said Richard Tackett, the victim's son.

The report states that's when one of the suspects shot him in the left lower jaw.

"They didn't ask for the car, didn't ask him to get out or anything they just shot him," said Sandy.

Sandy thinks it was her husband's experience as a former Marine that saved his life. She says he hit one of the men when he opened the driver's door and ran.

"He ran all the way across the yard, the front porch and into the house spitting blood and teeth everywhere," said Sandy.

Sandy says the suspects stole her husband's white Pontiac and it was recovered later that morning off Fort Caroline Rd. and Tarpon Drive. The three men are still at large.

Sandy says her husband is a caring man, has a son, a daughter and a 3-year-old grandson. She says he was shocked that this happened to him.

"He said, 'I just can't believe it, I'm not going to go out and help anybody anymore' he says, 'I thought I was doing the right thing' and instead he says 'I get shot'," added Sandy.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crimestoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.

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