Staff Sergeant Nathan Heilman reached out to wiggle his baby daughter’s foot, and little Amerie Jane cried.


 



Staff Sergeant Nathan Heilman reached out to wiggle his baby daughter’s foot, and little Amerie Jane cried.



Then Heilman leaned over and planted a soft kiss on the 4-month old’s head, and Amerie Jane smiled.



It was one of the first tender moments between a father and daughter who were meeting for the first time.



Heilman, a data chief for Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 2, had just returned to Cherry Point after a four-and-a-half-month deployment in Afghanistan.



He and 78 other members of the unit were reunited with family and friends Friday at the Marine Corps air station.



“It’s wonderful,” Heilman said upon returning. “I’ve been keeping in touch the whole time while I’ve been gone, keeping up through pictures. I’m just excited to get home and get to know my new family.”



Amerie Jane was born in Idaho while Heilman was preparing to leave for Afghanistan, but he was able to see the birth through Skype.



“He was excited. This is his first baby,” wife Amy Heilman said. “I saw a few tears. He was trying to hold them back. He was very grateful to be able to see her birth on Skype. If she had come one day later, he would have missed it.”



The couple had to part company right before the baby was born.



He left for Afghanistan less than 24 hours after she was born,” Amy Heilman said. “He was on a plane a few hours after she was born.”



If the baby had been born while Heilman was in transit, he wouldn’t have been able to experience the birth.



“It was wonderful just to have the opportunity to be there as much as I could when she was going through the process,” the Marine said. “It was comforting to be able to talk to the doctors and ask questions.”



VMU-2 Marines filled support and supply roles in Afghanistan, operating two kinds of remote intelligence-gathering aircraft and a new unmanned helicopter used to carry items to the front lines.



Lance Cpl. Robert Krasinski, of VMU-2, also was able to see the birth of his child via the new technology of the Internet.



“He was able to see the birth on Skype,” said wife and new mother Melinda Krasinski.



“I was glad that he was able to see it,” wife and new mother Melinda Krasinski said before her husband’s arrival home. “He cried for the birth. I’m pretty sure he’ll cry when he sees her.”



When he was finally able to put his hands on little 7-week-old Kara Christin, Krasinski was moved.



“It’s probably the most amazing thing in the world seeing her here and to hold her,” he said. “All I can say is I’m just happy.”



There were also tears from the children of Master Sgt. Gualberto Martinez. His 15-year-old son Luciano and 14-year-old daughter Dominique both cried as they embraced their father. The two Havelock High School students didn’t know their father was coming home Friday.



“They didn’t have a clue what was going on,” said the Marine’s brother, Andy Martinez. “We picked them up from school and there were some signs put out while they were at school. We told them they were just for a get together.”



But as the bus pulled up, their father stepped off and the waterworks started.



“It’s the greatest thing in the world being home,” the Marine said amid the hugs with his family. “There is still part of me that’s back there with the Marines that are still there, but it’s good to be home.”



For Sgt. Efrain Ordonez, coming home was summed up in the signs put out by his son and wife.



“Welcome Home Daddy!!! I took care of my mommy and baby brother while you were gone!” said a sign held by Efrain Ordonez Jr.



Another said “Sgt. Ordonez. Forget Call of Duty, Time for Diaper Duty.”