Roanoke, VA - Once a month for decades now, the 29th Infantry Association has met at The Roanoker restaurant for their monthly meeting.
Wednesday that meeting nearly turned into tragedy as a Navy vet of D-Day began choking and eventually fell unconscious.
Mickey Johnson says it was a twist of fate.
He was all set to go meet a client in Philadelphia but couldn't get his flight out of Roanoke Wednesday due to fog.
Once he found a later flight-- his client fell ill... so he stayed in Roanoke.
"I remembered I had a 29th Infantry Association meeting... a monthly meeting. So I went to lunch there," said Johnson.
It was near the end of that meeting at The Roanoker restaurant that Johnson realized his friend sitting across from him was in trouble.
"The guy beside him said, 'He's choking, he's choking... can someone help?"
Johnson tried but his attempts at the Heimlich Maneuver were in vain.
Ernest Dent was on the line cooking when the call went out for help and the Army vet sprung into action.
"Butch comes out of the office and says, 'Does anyone know how to do the Heimlich Maneuver'?," said Dent.
But Dent's attempt wasn't working either so Jennifer Vincent ran to get retired pediatrician Dr. Paul Bowles.
"I saw his eyes roll into the back and I thought to myself, 'Dear God what can we do?'," said Vincent.
As Dent and a co-worker held the unconscious D-Day veteran straight up, the doctor continued to try to dislodge the food...
"All my might, all my might. I just had to keep doing what I was doing to save this man the best I could," said T.J. Dorcus who helped in the first aid.
While Johnson called 9-1-1.
Dispatcher - "Is he still breathing?"
Johnson - "I don't think so. I don't think so."
Dispatcher - "He's not breathing?"
Johnson - "No."
Then finally... after four long minutes.
Johnson - "He's getting a little air."
Dispatcher - "Get him to keep coughing."
Johnson - "Ok he's breathing."
Johnson - "Sometimes our downs are down for a reason and that's to help someone else up."
Because of privacy issues we are not identifying the vet that was saved but I was told Thursday, by his post commander, that the vet believes his wartime wound led to his choking.
During D-Day, this vet was wounded by shrapnel that destroyed most of his saliva ducts and he believes that's what led to this near miss.
I'm told that vet is sore today... but doing fine.