LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - When we posted a story on the WLOX Facebook wall Friday about a Gulfport Seabee and the toddler he saved, it hit a chord with south Mississippi. That post got almost 3,300 likes. And dozens of you shared comments like, "Well done sir."
"What an awesome man."
And, "We thank God for our heroes."
Around the house, Jerry Johnson is a full-time dad, and a part-time dog washer.
But, in this Long Beach apartment complex, he's a hero.
Just ask Kay Dolan. "He's just awesome," the great grandmother said. "I love him. My whole family loves him."
Dolan's great grandchildren was in distress in May. And Johnson saved the day. "My sister wants to give you a dinner party at her house," she yelled down to Johnson while he washed his dog Leroy. The slightly embarrassed Seabee looked back at her and simply said, "really? Thanks."
In the last month, the Seabee base and the Long Beach Police Department have given Johnson citations for his act of heroism. "I don't feel any different, but that's what I've been labeled," he said.
Back on May 24, the Petty Officer First Class was with his dog in the Green Acres courtyard when he suddenly heard a scream. "When I heard the great grandmother yell, I just kind of ran upstairs and didn't think at all," he remembered. He ran up a spiral staircase and dashed inside apartment 11.
That's where he found 19-month-old Ayden not breathing. Johnson performed CPR on the toddler until paramedics arrived. "It's important to me to be able to give back to the community, or be a productive member of society in general," he said.
Johnson is a Seabee, and he's training in CPR. While he wishes everybody would learn CPR, he knows that's not possible. What he'd like is for more people to come up with a plan, so if they face a similar emergency, they don't panic, and instead, let their instincts take over.
"From whether or not you can receive training and become CPR qualified to just knowing to grab the phone, call 911, get a responder on the phone who can walk you through those step, because every second counts," he emphasized. "If you're not sure in any situation just call, and they'll talk you through it until the paramedics get there."
Because Johnson didn't need coaching, Ayden got the CPR he needed. And his mom Alleigh Frazier got a new friend for life. "We truly love you. You are part of our family forever," a beaming Frazier said just before she took her grandmother and her baby to church.
Follow this link, and you can read how you can learn CPR.