SOUTHWEST ASIA — Airmen take pride in the electronic devices that allow them to listen to their favorite music, see distant targets or identify the movements of an enemy force.
But one Airman used modern technology recently to witness something a lot more personal.
Tech. Sgt. Rafael Garcia, 379th Expeditionary Mission Support Group, witnessed the birth of his third child, and he did so without leaving his post in Southwest Asia.
Instead, he saw the birth live via webcam while his wife was 6,000 miles away.
Sergeant Garcia is deployed from Ramstein, and prior to the start of his deployment in May, he had taken his wife back to the United States to be with her family during the pregnancy.
In order to not be left out of the preparations, he set up a webcam link in his room.
“Mainly, I was just following her status through the months,” Sergeant Garcia said. “She would tell me through the webcam how her doctor appointments were going. Overall it was just like me being there.”
The impending birth was no secret in Sergeant Garcia’s office. His supervisor, Master Sgt. Nicolas Navarro, said Sergeant Garcia told his co-workers that Mrs. Garcia was going to have a baby when he first arrived.
“We’d always ask at our weekly meetings how his wife was doing,” said Sergeant Navarro, deployed from Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. “It was just part of being good wingmen to make sure that his family was in good hands and everything was going smoothly.”
Sergeant Garcia’s co-workers were also impressed at the webcam link-up.
“I thought it was just fantastic that he was able to see his wife, even though he couldn’t physically be there,” Sergeant Navarro said. “Staying connected accomplishes two things. If a servicemember knows their family is doing well it makes it easier to concentrate on accomplishing the mission, and if the family knows they’re fine they worry a little less about their deployed loved one.”
As the big day drew near, Sergeant Garcia asked his wife to find out if the webcam could be placed in the operating room during the birth itself.
“(The hospital) tested it out on their end and said we could have the laptop there during the procedure,” Sergeant Garcia said. “The hospital staff said this was a first for them to have someone watch a birth using a webcam.”
Mrs. Garcia was scheduled for a cesarean section Aug. 12 but she went into labor earlier than expected.
“Fortunately, I was in my room already when she went into labor,” Sergeant Garcia said. “I always keep my computer on and she actually contacted me through the webcam to tell me.”
While Sergeant Garcia waited in his room, Mrs. Garcia went to the hospital.
“About 45 minutes later she called me through the webcam to tell me she was having the C-section,” he said. “I stayed up through the night until almost
3 a.m. local time. I saw the whole procedure.”
All went well and Sergeant Garcia’s daughter entered the world on Aug. 10.
Sergeant Garcia said he is grateful for the technology that allowed him to see the birth of his first daughter from across two continents.
“It was amazing; there are really no other words to explain it,” he said. “I don’t know how many Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen or Marines would have the opportunity to do something like this but I consider myself one of the lucky ones.”