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Right place right time twice
U.S. Air Force Maj. John Briner, 7th Munitions Squadron commander, presents Senior Master Sgt. Michael Jovanovich, 7th MUNS, with his third oak leaf cluster for the Air Force Commendation Medal Feb. 11, 2013, at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. Jovanovich was awarded the medal after he saved a co-worker’s life by performing the Heimlich maneuver on him while he was choking. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Peter Thompson/ Released)
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Right place right time twice

Posted 2/13/2013   Updated 2/13/2013 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Peter Thompson
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

2/13/2013 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- For the second time in his career, Senior Master Sgt. Michael Jovanovich, 7th Munitions Squadron, was able to assess a critical situation and take action to save a life.

In the Munitions Squadron building, Nov. 28, 2012, Jovanovich ran into Mr. Reynaldo Smith, a civilian co-worker, when he crossed the hall to clean a coffee pot in a break room. After chatting briefly with Mr. Smith, Jovanovich returned to his office. Before he could reach his desk, he realized he left the coffee pot in the other room. When Jovanovich returned, Smith was leaning over the trash can in the corner of the room.

"I could immediately see he was in distress," Jovanovich continued. "Even before I asked, I knew there was something seriously wrong. I could tell by the look in his eyes, he needed help."

Jovanovich walked over to Smith, told him he was going to try to help him and began performing the Heimlich maneuver. After the first couple thrusts, a small piece of the obstruction came out, but Smith was still choking. Jovanovich continued and several attempts later the lodged food came loose, allowing Smith to breathe again.

"Luckily I was there when I was." Jovanovich said. "It was a slow time of the day for this part of the building. If I wasn't there when I was, it might have ended differently."

"I'm thankful that he realized and acted as if it was a serious situation and not a joke," Smith said, recalling the event. "I'm grateful that he was there and for what he did and I know my family is too."

For his prompt reaction and humanitarian regard for his fellow man, Jovanovich received his third oak leaf cluster for the Air Force Commendation Medal.

This wasn't his first encounter where lives were at risk. In 2010, while driving near Moody Air Force Base, Ga., he witnessed a sport utility vehicle crash and flip onto the side of a highway. He immediately reacted, pulling three children from the wreck and assisting two adults only moments before the vehicle burst into flames.

"At some point, everyone will witness an event that puts them in a position to make a choice and to make one quickly," Jovanovich said. "Do they look the other way and ignore the person or react immediately and render some sort of aid? I ask, how would you feel if you desperately needed help while those around you looked the other way? How would you feel if it was your son, daughter, mother or father that needed help? Your indecisiveness or choosing to look the other way could cost someone their life."

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