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Charles City National Guard soldier awarded Iowa Medal of Merit for lifesaving act

  • First Lt. Elizabeth Holland, former platoon leader with the 1133rd Transportation Company, Iowa Army National Guard, recounts the lifesaving actions of Sgt. Timothy Hesse Sr. to Maj. Gen. Ben Corell, adjutant general of the Iowa National Guard, during a ceremony to award Hesse the Iowa Medal of Merit at the Camp Dodge Joint Maneuver Training Center on May 13. (Army National Guard photo)

  • Sgt. Timothy Hesse Sr., right, salutes Maj. Gen. Ben Corell, adjutant general of the Iowa National Guard, during a ceremony to award Hesse the Iowa Medal of Merit at Camp Dodge on May 13. (Army National Guard photo)

  • Maj. Gen. Ben Corell, adjutant general of the Iowa National Guard, thanks Sgt. Timothy Hesse Sr. for his quick, decisive actions that saved the life of another soldier during a ceremony to award Hesse the Iowa Medal of Merit at the Camp Dodge on May 13. The ceremony was adjusted to allow for social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Army National Guard photo)

  • Sgt. Timothy Hesse Sr. stands at attention after Maj. Gen. Ben Corell, adjutant general of the Iowa National Guard, pinned on the Iowa Medal of Merit at Camp Dodge on May 13. (Army National Guard photo)

  • Sgt. Timothy Hesse Sr. smiles after Maj. Gen. Ben Corell, adjutant general of the Iowa National Guard, pinned on the Iowa Medal of Merit at Camp Dodge on May 13. On Aug. 15, 2019, Hesse administered CPR to a soldier who stopped breathing at the Mason City armory, keeping him alive until paramedics arrived. (Army National Guard photo)

  • Sgt. Timothy Hesse Sr. poses with his family before a ceremony to award him the Iowa Medal of Merit at Camp Dodge Joint Maneuver Training Center on May 13, 2020. (Army National Guard photo)

To The Press

Last August, Timothy Hesse Sr., a sergeant with the Iowa Army National Guard, joined his wife and children for dinner at their home in Charles City on the night before drill.

While the rest of his family went to see a movie afterward then returned home, Hesse decided to return to the Mason City armory for the night. When he arrived, he noticed a soldier from a different platoon sitting outside on the ground, not moving.

“The Guard teaches you how to recognize certain situations and know when somebody is off,” said Hesse, a motor transport operator with the 1133rd Transportation Company.

Hesse checked on the soldier, who said he wasn’t feeling good and felt like he was going to pass out. Shortly after, he fell over and began seizing. Hesse sprung into action.

“While he was seizing, I grabbed another soldier and told her to come with me,” Hesse said. “I told her to call 911. I assessed him. He wasn’t breathing. He had a faint pulse, then all the sudden no pulse.”

Recognizing the danger, Hesse began administering chest compressions and mouth-to-nose resuscitation. He continued to do this for approximately 10 minutes before paramedics arrived.

Hesse said that was the first time he had ever used CPR in a real emergency.

“I was nervous and scared,” Hesse said. “My adrenaline was rushing, but the cops calmed me down. They said I brought him back to life. I got him breathing, that’s all that mattered.”

When the soldier was released from the hospital, he called Hesse to thank him for saving his life.

First Lt. Elizabeth Holland, Hesse’s platoon leader at the time, said she’s extremely proud of Hesse.

“Sergeant Hesse is a good soldier,” Holland said. “You ask him to do something and he does it. You put him in charge of things and he makes sure it gets done. He’s kind of a more quiet, shy guy, but really easy to talk to. Definitely very caring and dependable.”

Not long after the event, Holland knew she wanted to help recommend Hesse for the Iowa Medal of Merit, which is given to members of the Iowa National Guard who, while serving, distinguished themselves through acts of heroism or meritorious achievement.

About eight months later on May 13, a small group of soldiers gathered in a gravel parking lot at the Camp Dodge Joint Maneuver Training Center to see Maj. Gen. Ben Corell, adjutant general of the Iowa National Guard, present the medal to Hesse.

Corell praised him for his quick, decisive actions. Due to COVID-19, the ceremony was adjusted to allow for social distancing.

In the time since the incident, Hesse has continued to serve his fellow soldiers and Iowans by volunteering for state active duty to deliver medical personal protective equipment in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hesse said his experience in the Iowa National Guard and the support from his family throughout his military career helped set him up for success. His wife, Melissa McGovern-Hesse, five children and grandson attended the presentation.

“The Guard has taught me a lot about stepping up when you need to step up,” Hesse said, “It gives me courage.”

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