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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — John Zivic, 71, a retired Air Force master sergeant who has lived in the Pacific since 1966, was in critical condition at an Okinawa hospital Thursday following an apparent heart attack while refereeing a basketball game.

“This came as a shock to everyone that knows him,” said Jim Kassebaum, chief marketing officer for Marine Corps Community Services, who remembers Zivic as a referee for games when he was at Kubasaki High School in the 1970s.

“He is being cared for at Urasoe General Hospital,” Kassebaum added. “I spoke to the family, and they requested that he receive no visitors until his condition improves.”

Zivic was officiating a playoff game during the 14th annual Martin Luther King Basketball Tournament for military teams Sunday at the Foster Field House when he collapsed on the court about 5:30 p.m., according to observers. Five servicemembers performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on him for about 10 minutes while waiting for corpsmen from the U.S. Naval Hospital on Camp Lester to arrive.

He was later transferred to the Urasoe hospital.

“He’s a man who is beloved by many people,” Kassebaum said. “He’s been the MCCS community services coordinator for Camp Kinser since 2003, but during his decades on Okinawa, he’s touched all the services on the island at one point or another.”


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