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thedrifter
06-15-03, 12:53 PM
Posted on: Sunday, June 15, 2003
Marine trades desert for diapers

By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer

Talk about the stress of being a first-time father.
While Marine Sgt. Timothy Mayberry's wife, Candace, was giving birth to their son, he was thousands of miles away in the desert of Kuwait.

But he was there during the 15-hour labor via long-distance phone call. When he wasn't rushing to a bunker during a Scud missile alarm, that is.

Every couple of hours he would call his wife at Tripler Army Medical Center. And five or six times in between there was an alarm at Camp Commando near Kuwait City.

"I remember being mad because the Scud alarms kept going off when I was trying to talk to her," the 21-year-old 1st Radio Battalion Marine said. "I wasn't really scared ... there was more surprise that I was in that situation."

This Father's Day is one he'll likely never forget.

Nine-pound, 12-ounce Christopher Mayberry was born April 6 at 9:47 p.m. His dad, who returned to Hawai'i on May 29, was on the phone with his wife at the time.

"I got my Father's Day present early," he said.

Mayberry's introduction to fatherhood came when his son was more than 1 1/2 months old. Yesterday, father and son were going to go to their first car show together at Pearl Harbor.

"I've enjoyed it (being a new dad) everything," the North Carolina man said. "It definitely gives you a new perspective. My priorities have definitely changed."

Mayberry was among about 250 1st Radio Battalion Marines from Kane'ohe Bay who deployed to Kuwait on Feb. 9. The unit provides communications support for Marine Corps intelligence organizations and conducts electronic warfare.

Most have returned

More than 170 of the Marines have returned, including a group of 120 that came back Monday. About 70 Marines will remain in the Middle East until later this summer supporting ongoing operations.

Augmented by more than 40 other Marines from the 2nd Radio Battalion from Camp Lejeune, N.C., the 1st Radio Battalion supported forces in both Kuwait and Iraq, and half of the Marines deployed in direct support of the ground attack, linking up with other Marine forces.

Mayberry's job as an electronic maintenance technician kept him in Kuwait, where temperatures were in the 40s when he arrived, over 100 when he left, and sandstorms would shred camouflage netting covering tents.

Two Iraqi missiles landed outside the camp's front gate on the first day of the war.

Candace Mayberry, who also is 21, remembers being "really scared" about her husband being in the war. The couple has been married for two years, and it was his first combat deployment.

"I watched MSNBC 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If I heard anything about Marines, I was just like, 'You better call and tell me that you're OK,' " she said.

With her husband back home, she laughs about the long-distance delivery, but remembers he heard something else on the phone a lot of her labor pains.

"I would say, 'Hold on' and scream, and then say, 'OK,' " she said.

Timothy Mayberry tried to call every morning at the same time, and a friend who answered the phone alerted him to call labor and delivery.

"I remember one time he was on the phone and I said, 'I love you,' and the doctor yelled at me,"

Candace said. "They were like, 'You can't say that don't be talking,' because they wanted me to concentrate on pushing, not talking."

Timothy was on the phone when his son was born, and heard his first cry. His wife wore a yellow ribbon for him on her arm, and hung another one on Christopher's bassinet in the hospital.

A nervous homecoming

A fellow Marine snapped some pictures of Mayberry's son, and e-mailed them to him. His mother-in-law did the same.

Trying to stay focused on his job, Mayberry got word he was going home a few weeks ago. The Marines were originally told they could be gone up to a year.

"It was hard because you think, 'Well, I might be here for a while,' and you never know what's going to happen," he said. The return flight took 31 hours, with stops in Dubai, Singapore and Guam.

Timothy Mayberry remembers being nervous as he walked up the driveway back home.

"She was at the door holding him. I don't know ..." he said, searching for the words. "It was great."

The emotional roller coaster didn't end there. After his son was born, Mayberry got a letter from his biological father whom he hadn't seen since he was about 6 after there was a breakup in the family.

"He said congratulations, and that he's proud of me for being out there, and he wanted some pictures of us," Mayberry said. "It may start a relationship. There's not really one there right now."

Reach William Cole at wcole@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-5459.

http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2003/Jun/15/ln/ln06a.html


Sempers,

Roger