New Jersey native sailor saves life at gym

The lifesaving drills that U.S. Navy sailor Ryan P. Lighten performed while stationed in San Antonio were muscle memory on a recent trip to the gym.

“I was practicing on the bench press with my headphones on, when one of my future sailors came running up to me with a scared look on his face, screaming frantically,” said Lighten, 29, from Newark. “He told me there was a man lying on the ground unresponsive and not breathing.”

Future sailor Dominic Rodgers knew the Navy provided CPR training for all its personnel, so he ran straight to Lighten, he said.

Without hesitation, Lighten swung into action.

“My first thought was ‘I hope I can remember my practice,'” Lighten said. “paved a path for me by telling everyone around that I knew about CPR.”

Lighten began by clearing the scene with Rodgers and instructing a nearby bystander to call 911. Then, with all the critical CPR steps going through his mind, Lighten began performing the rescue technique on the victim.

Within 15 minutes of chest compressions and mechanical ventilation, the unconscious man became responsive and began to breathe again. He was groggy and unable to remember what had happened or where he was. Paramedics quickly arrived and took over, putting the victim in an ambulance for further treatment at a local hospital.

“The guy never really saw who helped him,” Lighten said. “I hope I will have the opportunity to formally introduce myself to him in the future.”

Lighten said he’s grown quickly and isn’t afraid to face tough times.

“I grew up in a tough neighborhood and wanted a better future for myself,” Lighten said. “I joined the Navy because I wanted to improve myself, both professionally and culturally.”

During his early years in the Navy, Lighten worked as a machinery repairman. He said he made the transition to Navy recruiting to better “help young men and women get the same benefits I received when I joined the Navy.”

Proudly serving the Navy for the past eight years, Lighten said, “The Navy has helped me by positioning me to grow as a leader.

Lighten was selected as the Navy Talent Acquisition Group (NTAG) Southwest Senior Sailor of the Year for 2021.

“The Navy has given me a better outlook on my life and a brighter future for my son,” Lighten said.

As a dedicated leader and father, Lighten said, “I often volunteer at local high schools, animal hospitals, and retirement homes in an effort to give back to my community and raise awareness for the Navy.”

Lighten has been an outstanding sailor at NTAG Southwest for some time. He was meritoriously advanced to the rank of Petty Officer First Class in 2020 and was later appointed Chief Petty Officer of Navy Recruiting Station Temecula.

He plans to work towards the rank of chief petty officer, with the hope of eventually retiring at the rank of master-chief petty officer.

Lighten’s most immediate goal is to guide as many people as possible, like Future Sailor Rodgers, into the Navy from the Temecula area.

This story was submitted by Navy Talent Acquisition Group Southwest.

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