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Soldiers honored after saving chaplain’s life

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FORT LEE, Va. (WTVR) - Three Fort Lee soldiers were honored Monday after they helped save the life of an army chaplain who suffered a heart attack on the base.

Back in April, Staff Sgt. José Lozano, Staff Sgt. Tyronda Kelly and Nakia Wallace were on a bus monitoring detail when they saw a man lying on a bus stop bench.

"He looked kind of out of the ordinary," said Kelly in a base press release. "We stopped and asked him, 'Is everything OK?' He looks up and says, 'Oh, I'm OK. I'm just taking a little break.'"

Moments later the man, later identified as Chaplain (Col.) James R. White, collapsed.

"I immediately started dialing 9-1-1," said Wallace, a mother of three.

As Wallace spoke to the dispatcher, White stopped breathing.

"From that moment, I immediately started doing CPR," said Kelly. The three performed life-saving measures until EMTs arrived.

Col. White was rushed to the hospital were doctors determined he'd suffered a heart attack. White survived the health scare.

The colonel, who is in his 30th year of service, was scheduled to participate in a retirement ceremony June 13. Sgt. 1st Class Naomi L. Rankins. said that ceremony is still on.

"I'm blessed and feel real good (about what happened)," said Kelly. "All I can say, honestly and truthfully, is that if I was ever in that situation, I would hope that someone would be able to take care of me."

"I think God used us as vessels, and we were there at the right place and right time," Wallace said.