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Team Goodfellow members save choking victim

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Two members of Team Goodfellow leapt into action to assist a Goodfellow civilian choking on his lunch in a San Angelo restaurant March 1.

Cory Lelek, a NAF financial analyst with the 17th Comptroller Squadron and Senior Master Sgt. Robert Martinez, the flight chief of the 17th Communication Squadron Support Flight, rushed to the aid of Clay Dixon, an assistant quality assurance manager with the 17 CPTS to clear his airway and start his breathing.

"If not for these two men, I don't know what the outcome would have been," Mr. Dixon wrote in a letter thanking Sgt. Martinez and Mr. Lelek. "They are both true heroes in my eyes."

Mr. Lelek said he and Mr. Dixon were eating lunch at a local Tex-Mex restaurant when Mr. Dixon began choking. Mr. Dixon grasped his throat to alert Mr. Lelek to his choking, and Mr. Lelek stood and began abdominal thrusts to clear Mr. Dixon's airway.

Sergeant Martinez said he was having lunch with a co-worker at another table in the restaurant when he saw Mr. Dixon struggling for breath. He rushed over to assist Mr. Lelek, who began applying force to Mr. Dixon's back while Sgt. Martinez took over the abdominal thrusts. With both of their help, Mr. Dixon was able to remove the food from his airway and resume breathing.

Mr. Lelek, a former enlisted Airman, and Sgt. Martinez both credit their Air Force Self-Aid and Buddy Care training for their quick actions. Thanks to that Air Force training, Mr. Dixon was able to walk away from the incident shaken, but healthy.

"I was initially in shock," said Maj. Stephen Cristofori, 17 CPTS commander. "You always hear about someone choking, but here I know both the person choking and one of the rescuers--and they both work for me!"

While some, like Maj. Cristofori, might call them heroes, the two rescuers are humble. "GI's always help out," Sgt. Martinez said. "It's what people expect of us and what we should expect of ourselves."