SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) – There were some scary moments at a Scripps Ranch elementary school, when a child started choking at lunch and couldn't breathe. But luckily a new employee was in the right place, at the right time.

A sandwich for lunch -- kids eat them almost every day. But one big bite at Dingeman Elementary - almost ended in disaster.

After spending 24 years in the Navy, Reggie White knew exactly how to enjoy retirement.

"I really enjoy being around the kids," White said.

White was on lunch duty at his kids' school when a first grader came up to him, unable to breathe. Apparently he tried to finish his sandwich in one bite so he could play on the yard, but it got stuck in his throat.

Reggie went right to work, performing the Heimlich maneuver.

"It was a big wad of peanut butter, came flying out of there," White said.

White says the boy's face showed instant relief.

"And he was like, wow it's out," he said.

In fact, he wanted to go play, but White had him go to the nurse just to make sure he was OK, which he was.

"I was glad that I was there, really and truly, to help him out," he said.

And talk about timing. Dingeman Elementary's parent association had just put the whole lunch duty crew through CPR and first aid training, so it was fresh in his mind.

While he doesn't see himself as a hero, he does use the experience as a friendly reminder for the kids.

"When you're eating, make sure you take your time," he said. "Eat and swallow all your food before you go running out."

White says the boy's parents have thanked him several times, and the school honored him with a special assembly.