When a C-17 Globemaster, call sign Reach 828, landed at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on Saturday, it had an extra passenger, after an Afghan mother on board gave birth to a baby girl as the aircraft made its final descent.
The parents named the baby Reach, after the aircraft, U.S. European Command’s boss told reporters on Wednesday.
“And as you can well imagine, being an Air Force fighter pilot, it’s my dream to watch that young child called Reach grow up and be a U.S. citizen and fly United States Air Force fighters in our Air Force,” Gen. Tod Wolters told reporters.
Photos of the baby’s mother exiting the aircraft on a gurney circulated Saturday. She had gone into labor mid-flight, prompting the pilot to lower the aircraft’s altitude to help stabilize her blood pressure long enough to delay delivery until they had landed.
Once on the ground, medics and an Army labor and delivery nurse came aboard and delivered Reach in the cargo bay, while other evacuees help up scarves to protect her privacy.
Reach is one of three babies born since evacuating to Europe, Wolters confirmed. Two more newborns were delivered at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center after deplaning.
Since Friday, 7,000 Afghan evacuees have been processed through U.S. bases in Europe, Wolters said. They are expected to spend up to two weeks there completing visa requirements before heading to the U.S. for resettlement.
No word on what the other babies were named.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.