COLORADO SPRINGS — A leader at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado Springs is being recognized for his actions after saving the life of a man while on vacation in Hawaii

Master Sgt. Ryan Herter, Joint Task Force-Space Defense Current Operations senior enlisted leader, recently vacationed with his family in Hawaii.

“We were celebrating my wife, Jessika, and my eighth wedding anniversary as well as trying to recreate some historical family photos,” he said.

Along for the ride were his 6-year-old daughter, Jessika’s parents, and aunt.  The family shares an appreciation for history and set out to recreate photos of Jessika’s great grandparents in similar spots around Pearl Harbor during World War II.

“I’m pursuing my master’s degree in American Military History,’” he said. “At one point in the vacation, I went to visit a former coworker in [Indo-Pacific Command]. He showed me how the military made the conscious decision to keep some of the damage inflicted by the Japanese during World War II.”

On the way to Turtle Bay, Herter noticed a car ahead sway off the road and started riding the guard rail.

“The vehicle in front of us drove around it, but I drove up alongside and could see the driver was slumped over the wheel,” he said.

The driver bounced off a bridge and crossed the oncoming traffic lane before resting on the other shoulder.

“My mother-in-law, Paula, is a nurse, so she went with me to check on the driver while my wife called 9-1-1,” he said. “We could see the car was still in drive. I started knocking on the window and tried to get him to unlock the doors. When he finally came to, he attempted to drive again.”

Some locals who had also witnessed the accident turned around and returned to park their car in front of the stopped vehicle.

“While they were able to reach the emergency brake from the passenger side, I was finally able to remove the keys from the ignition so he wouldn’t be able to attempt to drive again,” Herter said. “Paula then took over and started to assess his condition. We just kept talking to him to try to keep him coherent until first responders arrived.”

It’s believed the driver was experiencing a diabetic attack which can lead to incoherence, becoming anxious, fatigue, weakness, and shock.

For Herter, this situation resolved much better than he experienced in Colorado Springs nearly two decades earlier.

“I was driving home from Schriever and came upon an overturned car off Barnes by the then Sky Sox Stadium,” he said. “It appears they were drag racing before they overturned. Unfortunately, when I climbed into the vehicle to check the driver, I took his pulse and realized he was deceased. Similar to my recent encounter in Hawaii, the vehicle was still running, and I was able to kill the ignition. I found the passenger ejected and provided first aid.”

“When I hear stories like this, I’m always impressed. It seems like a simple act of looking out for someone, yet I’m sure there were a number of cars that just drove on by,” said Maj. Benjamin Herring, National Space Defense Enter deputy chief of current operations. “Undoubtedly, if the man had resumed driving, he would have placed himself and others at grave risk.”

Maj. Gen. DeAnna Burt, commander of Combined Force Space Component Command, U.S. Space Command; and deputy commander of Space Operations Command, U.S. Space Force, personally recognized Herter during her visit to Schriever Air Force Base on April 1st.

“I think the military has trained me to the point where my instinct now is to react,” said Herter. “I am happy I was there to help.”