MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. (April 21, 2010) --
Marines from Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 1 returned from a six-month deployment in Afghanistan to a hangar full of anxiously waiting family members and friends at 1:30 a.m, April 21.
While on deployment, nine of the Marines missed their child’s birth and celebrated their first day as a new father in the sands of Afghanistan. They all shared in the anxiety as they were about to meet their newborn babies for the first time.
The VMAQ-1 Marines were escorted to the hangar on a white bus, and the sight of it pulling up seemed to give everybody a second wind, including the nine new fathers.
“Oh my god, that’s my baby boy,” said Lance Cpl. Andrew T. Masker, an airframe mechanic with VMAQ-1. “This whole birth process has been life-changing.”
The Marines were able to stay in contact with their families fairly regularly during the deployment, which allowed them to experience the pregnancy from afar, said Mandi M. Moore, the family readiness officer for VMAQ-1.
On top of the family separation, the combination of a pregnancy and deployment can create many hardships.
Cpl. Laura C. Jimenez, a fixed-wing aircraft mechanic with VMAQ-4, and the spouse of returning Cpl. Josue A. Jimenez, an aircraft communications/navigation/radar systems technician with VMAQ-1, said the first month of her son’s life without his dad was the toughest.
“I’d be putting clothes away, and realize that my husband already missed that stage of our son’s life,” said Laura.
The feeling of missing out was common among the families.
“It was hard seeing all the progress my son was making, and not being there for it,” said Masker.
Masker’s wife, Christine noted, “At times it was difficult to go through the pregnancy alone, and it was bittersweet when Hunter was born, to be able see my husband’s face in his.”
Now back from the deployment, the new fathers of VMAQ-1 are acclimatizing back to garrison life and their new lifestyle at home with a baby around.
“It’s kind of a tough transition,” said Masker. “I’m learning to put on diapers and make bottles.”