Lt. Jonathan Hilzinger, an instructor at Information Warfare Training Command San Diego, saved the life of a Navy veteran who went missing earlier this year.

Hilzinger was out for a run in January when he was asked to help find a missing person in Chula Vista, California. Hilzinger found the veteran, who was convulsing in a locked vehicle. After extricating the vet, he immediately began providing cardiopulmonary resuscitation and other first aid at the scene.

Hilzinger tended to the veteran for 45 minutes before first responders arrived, The Navy says his efforts saved the veteran’s life. In March, he was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for non-combat heroism, the Navy announced Thursday.

“When I was initially briefed on this incident, I was not shocked that Lt. Hilzinger would do something like this,” said Cmdr. Tim Raymie, commanding officer of IWTC San Diego, in a Navy news release. “He has always placed others before himself and, as this incident clearly shows, this extends to fellow citizens who do not wear the uniform.

“In life we say many things are ‘meant to be,’ and it was meant to be that Jon was in the right location at the right time, to not only save the life of this veteran, but also to save the family from losing a loving husband and father,” he said. “Words can’t truly express how proud I am of Jon.”

Hilzinger is the lead for IWTC San Diego’s Culture of Excellence, Warrior Toughness and Expanded Operational Stress Control programs. Under his leadership, 12 Culture of Excellence case studies and 38 Culture of Excellence and Warrior Toughness initiatives have been executed across the command for 3,300 staff and students.

“Jon is a really close friend of mine and his lifesaving efforts does not surprise me,” said Lt. Elizabeth Powers, an instructor at IWTC San Diego, in the release. “His actions speak to his character and how he always thinks of others first.

“As a fellow junior officer and colleague of Jon, I couldn’t have thought of a better person at our command to lead the Navy’s programs that serve as role models of acceptable behavior,” she said. “Through this incident, Jon’s example isn’t just delivered through discussions, but is amplified by his personal actions.”

The Culture of Excellence program is designed to promote “psychological, physical and emotional toughness” as well as “organizational trust and transparency” and inclusion, according to the Navy. Warrior Toughness aims to help sailors perform in stressful situations and is based on concepts from Naval Special Warfare.

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