It was about 2 p.m. on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, December 15 at Pineview Memorial Cemetery in North Augusta, S.C.. A few of American Legion Post 71's members had gathered to place wreaths on the graves of all the veterans buried there. Some of the post's Auxiliary members were also present.
Dawn Diver, a former Navy Seabee, walked up to me. She seemed to be upset and shared that our post commander, Ralph Wainright, had just suffered a massive heart attack and was on his way to the hospital.
Ralph had been bending over his pickup truck while attaching a small trailer containing the wreaths.
Suddenly, he seemed to slide in some mud. He collapsed while his chest crushed against the trailer hitch.
Dawn immediately began administering CPR. Ron Price, also a member of the post, took over to give Dawn a rest. They continued the procedure until the EMS team arrived on the scene.
Kevin Joy, our sergeant-at-arms, had called the rescue team while Dawn and Ron tried to save Wainright for at least 15 minutes.Ron Price later told Ralph that he had been paddled six times, after each of the times his heart had stopped.
As Kevin Joy, now post commander, stated, “I do know if it wasn't for Dawn, Ron and myself, Ralph Wainright would not be here today.”
Ralph was transported to Augusta University Hospital, where he remained in ICU until December 21.
During an interview I asked him if he believed in God or that God had had anything to do with his recovery.
Ralph excitedly responded, “God somehow told me that there was something left for me to do. That's why I'm here.”
Ron Price, one of Ralph's lifesavers, is also a good friend. They are both leaders and have held several important Legion offices. The two men and their wives, both Carolyns, are members of the Legion Riders, an important part of the American Legion. Ron is the South Carolina 2nd vice commander, on his way to becoming South Carolina's state commander. During Ralph's recovery Ron and his wife have done so much to assist Ralph and his wife.
Dawn Diver is Post 71's quartermaster and ceremonial corps director. She is also busy teaching school full time.
Ralph has been married many years to his wife, Carolyn. They have two children.
As I brought the interview to a close I asked Ralph, "What is that 'something' left for you to do?"
"To become District Commander."
Ralph Wainright is well on his road to recovery.