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NJ Native, Sailor Saves Life At The Gym

Ryan P. Lighten
Ryan P. Lighten Photo Credit: Todd Hack/Navy Talent Acquisition Group

The life-saving drills that US Navy sailor Ryan P. Lighten had performed while stationed in San Antonio were muscle memory during a recent trip to the gym.

“I was working out on the bench press with my earbuds in, when one of my future sailors ran up to me with a scared look on his face, yelling franticly,” said Lighten, 29, of Newark. “He told me there was a man lying on the floor unresponsive and not breathing.”

Future Sailor Dominic Rodgers knew the Navy provided CPR training to all of its personnel, which is why he ran straight to Lighten, he said.

Without hesitation, Lighten sprung into action.

“My first thought was ‘I hope I can remember my training,’” said Lighten. “cleared a path for me telling everyone in the vicinity that I knew CPR.”

Lighten began by clearing the scene with Rodgers and asked a nearby spectator to call 911. Then, with all the critical CPR steps running through his mind, Lighten started performing the life-saving technique on the victim.

Within 15 minutes of chest compressions and artificial ventilation, the unconscious man became responsive and started breathing again. He was groggy and unable to recollect what had happened or where he was. EMTs soon arrived and took over, putting the victim in an ambulance to receive further care at a local hospital.

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

Lighten said he grew up quickly and is not afraid to face difficult moments.

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

For his first few years in the Navy, Lighten worked as a machinery repairman. He said he made the transition to Navy Recruiting to better “assist young men and women in obtaining the same benefits that I received from joining the Navy.”

Proudly serving in the Navy for the past eight years, Lighten said, “The Navy has helped me by putting me in a position 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 brighter outlook on my life and a more promising future for my son,” said Lighten.

As a dedicated leader and father, Lighten said, “I frequently volunteer at the local high schools, animal hospitals and retirement homes with the purpose of giving back to my community and spreading Navy awareness.”

Lighten has been a standout Sailor at NTAG Southwest for a while. He was meritoriously advanced to petty officer first class in 2020 and was later named Leading Petty Officer of Navy Recruiting Station Temecula.

He plans on working toward the rank of chief petty officer, with hopes of eventually retiring at the rank of master chief petty officer.

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

This story was submitted by Navy Talent Acquisition Group Southwest.

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