After ten flights over two days, U.S. Army combat engineer Francois Clerfe made it home to California from his station in Iraq to witness the birth of his first child on Jan. 1.
Clerfe’s station explained he used a special policy in his battalion to be able to return to his laboring wife Natalia Svistunova, Fox News reported.
"From Kuwait, to Turkey, to Turkey to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Baltimore, Baltimore to Atlanta," Clerfe told WCVB as he began to recount his trek from Iraq back to the west coast.
Clerfe and Svistunova’s baby girl, who wasn’t due until Jan. 9, was the first child born at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula in 2018. Baby Julia was born at 9:53 a.m. on New Year’s Day.
"It was fun and exciting at the same time, you know the thrill of thinking the ‘what-ifs,’" Clerfe, who made it home in time, said of the journey home.
Svistunova said she was never worried that her husband wasn’t going to make it to witness the birth of his first child.
"You know, I had the feeling that he would make it because he really wanted to be here, next to us," Svistunova said.
Clerfe will return to his post next month, but in the meantime, is spending time with his wife and baby.
"That moment, having a first kid into the world, [on] the very first day of the New Year, I think that it’s going to be a very good year," Clerfe said.