A memorial stands in memory of Jarrett Mantanona May 15, 2012, in Coleman County, Texas. On May 13, 2011, James Gilger, 18, was driving intoxicated when he collided into the Mantanona family taking the life of 8-year-old son Jarrett Mantanona. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Stefanko/ Released)
A sign detours drunk driving May 15, 2012, in Coleman County, Texas. On May 13, 2011, James Gilger, 18, was driving intoxicated when he collided into the Mantanona family taking the life of 8-year-old son Jarrett Mantanona. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Stefanko/ Released)
by Airman 1st Class Jonathan D. Stefanko
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
5/17/2012 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- "I awoke to the screams of my wife, 'Jarrett has no pulse! He has no pulse!' It all happened so fast," said Staff Sgt. Matthew Mantanona, 7th Bomb Wing command chief's executive. "I ran to my son pulling him from the wreckage, trying all I can to bring him back. You do what you're taught, CPR and SABC, but it didn't work. For 45 minutes of trying to bring my son back none of it worked."
On May 13, 2011, James Gilger, 18, was driving intoxicated when he collided into the Mantanona family taking the life of 8-year-old son Jarrett Mantanona.
While dealing with the emotional trauma of the car accident, Mantanona and his wife Michelle, Jarrett's mother, stayed resilient and found ways to honor their son's life.
"I felt I had to be a role model for my family and the airmen who look up to me," said Mantanona. "I hope that if they see me bounce back, they will be able to stay resilient themselves, no matter the situation. For something bad to happen and to stay resilient, I think personifies our core values."
The Mantanona's hosted the Jarrett Paul Mantanona Memorial event with a 5K race and food drive May 13, 2012, to promote Jarrett's law, which is a petition to gain support for stricter penalties for driving under the influence and driving while intoxicated in Texas.
"We're angry, and we're grieving, but we can't just sit around and be miserable. It's not what Jarrett would have wanted," Michelle said. "We have to try to make something positive out of this, which is what he would have done."
Mantanona encourages Airmen to think before they act and understand the consequences that could follow.
"An airman came in recently in his blues with his supervisor having to talk to the command chief," said Mantanona. "I pulled him to the side after they were done and told him; I know you feel like your world is crumbling around you, but you should be happy you didn't hurt yourself, the individuals in the car or kill anyone. I just tell those airmen not to risk it -- it's never worth it in the end."
6/9/2012 10:26:53 PM ET When I had attended the Commanders Call and herd this it brought tears to my eyes.. It hit home for me I lost my little cousin Alissa 18 yrs old in April 2009 to a drunk driver that was only 19. I couldn't imagine losing a child to something so horrible. The young Airman at Dyess don't know how hard it is to lose a loved one until it happens to them and it shouldn't be like that. I thank Staff Sgt. Matthew Mantanona for reaching out and turning a terrible loss for his family into a experience that he and his family can save many of lives. His family is in my prayers and I hope Dyess never has to experience something like this again.