...at right about this time, I was, with the rest of my infantry platoon, skulking about in the coastal North Carolina scrub, waiting for the rest of my battalion to land from a few amphibious ships lying just off the shore. We were waiting for the lead company to land so we could shoot them up and then run like hell. We were the aggressor element for a night landing and deployment exercise for the 1st battalion, sixth Marines of the Second Marine Division.
The exercise went well, we completed our mission, and in the wee small hours of the morning, the rest of the battalion headed back out to sea, via our LVTP-7 amphibious tractors. While they went back to sea, my platoon went back to the garrison because the exercise was over. Even though we knew that we had done well, I wasn't interested. Not at all. You see, I knew that my then-wife was due to have our baby at any time. I had been in the field for a few days, and had no contact (this was before everyone and their brother had a cellular phone).
Once we arrived back at Camp Geiger, my platoon cleaned it's gear, showered, and we all headed for our racks (beds) to get some sleep. I was destined not to sleep, because just as I was about to get my head onto my pillow, the duty NCO came to me and said: "Hey! Corporal Gunfighter... the Staff Duty NCO needs to see you". I thought about copious swearing, but I thought that there was really only one reason that the Staff Sergeant would really need to see me, so I dressed and ran to his office, two blocks away.
Arriving at his office, he said: "Corporal Gunfighter?? Are you married?" I said that I was. "Is your wife named Jennifer Gunfighter?" I said that it was. "Is she pregnant?" I said that she was, thinking that I would like to bayonet this clown in the throat... "Well congratulations, Marine! You are the father of a baby girl!" At that moment, all of the personnel in the battalion duty offices congratulated me with handshakes and punches (we were Marines, we didn't hug, we punched)
I went back to my company area in a daze. As I went to the pay phone, I saw my pal Jim, who had been stationed with me in DC, across the quadrangle. I shouted to him that "it's a girl!" and dashed to make my calls.
After calling my parents, I roused up the little weasel who was our company clerk and told him to do my leave form, so I could head home. My wife was still in the DC area, and had given birth at the U.S. Air Force hospital at Andrews Air Force base. I jumped in the car around noon (I slept for about two hours) and headed north. I made good time, and arrived to meet my new daughter, only 12 hours after she was born.
I was stunned.
I was speechless.
When I think about it, I still am.
Eighteen years later, she is a confident young woman. An unassuming young person who loves her family, her church, her friends, who is an athlete, and is a friend to everyone she meets.
She is a good student, who will start college in two weeks.
I am so proud of her.
Happy Birthday, babe.