Bagram Airman deployed from Delaware Air Guard meets his first born via the Internet

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Michael Voss
  • 455th Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
"I wish I could be there to hold her," Tech. Sgt. Ryne Regan said to his wife after witnessing the birth of the couple's first child through his laptop.

Heard in the delivery room at the Women's and Babies Hospital in Lancaster, Pa., these eight words from the Airmen deployed thousands of miles away in Afghanistan brought the staff to tears.

After 30 hours of encouraging his wife from one contraction to the next, the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron C-130 loadmaster was finally rewarded with the first cries of Sarah Grace Regan, a blue-eyed, 8-pound, 3-ounce baby girl.

The Delaware Guardsman received word he was selected for his eighth deployment nearly a year ago, and instantly he knew boarding the plane for Afghanistan would be one of the hardest things he would ever have to do.

After meeting Toshia on a blind-date and marrying in 2008, the couple had numerous discussions about starting a family, and while life for a deploying service member does change as they prepare for their upcoming mission, Mother Nature does not.

"I was at work when she found out [the couple was expecting], and when I came home, she met me in the driveway with a big smile on her face shaking her head yes, and I knew what that meant," said the new father.

But, nine months ago both Sergeant Regan and Toshia knew the timing of their addition to the family would come at the start of a rough road. By the time Toshia gave birth to Sarah, she would have to talk to her husband through the phone or computer. To top it off conversations, would be limited because of time zones and Toshia would be going to bed as Sergeant Regan was boarding his plane for the day's mission.

"I guess the fact that I would not be there during the birth didn't hit home until I boarded the plane for Afghanistan," Sergeant Regan said.

As the months passed, the couple went on with life as usual. Sergeant Regan continued his civilian job of driving the daily Harrisburg to Philadelphia Amtrak, and Toshia went to doctor's appointments. A month ago when Ryne started packing, life turned from excitement to anxiety. As the worries of finding a solid support system for his wife passed, the couple found those concerns were replaced by how the future father be a part of the delivery of his daughter.

"Initially we were concerned about her having a great support system around her while I was gone," he said. "We had daily conversations about it, but when it was time to board the plane, the thought changed to Heaven forbid on the day she came, I would be on a mission, not in front of a computer and miss it."

Being a servicemember the expectant father's worries were answered by his extended Air Force family.

"My squadron offered to do everything they could to get me in front of a computer when it came time, and they did," Sergeant Ryne explained. "They took me off the flying schedule, helped me get an Internet connection and the time to be there for my wife."

"My squadron commander, Lt. Col. James Byerly said with everyone asking everyday how she is doing, it was like having 150 expectant fathers in the squadron," the new father said.

Over the course of last weekend, Sergeant Regan and his wife spent hours talking through a wireless signal and a 13-inch laptop monitor until the moment finally came and Sarah arrived at 5:20 a.m.

"Just before Sarah arrived, I actually lost the Internet signal and had to scramble to get the camera back up," he explained. "After the baby cried for the first time, my mother laid the computer next to my wife's head, and I told her I love her and I wish I could be there."

Today, a nearly a week later, life has returned to normal for the deployed loadmaster flying missions delivering cargo and passengers to various airfields throughout the country. But the Regan family has found their family has become more extended than they ever thought it could be. In fact, baby Sarah now has an adopted family the size of a squadron checking each day to see how she and her mom are progressing.

"We are a really tight-knit community," explained Sergeant Regan. "Most of the guys have deployed together multiple times and developed close relationships, and they have really rallied around to go everything they could for us."

The members of the 774th EAS are showing that it doesn't need to be Month of the Military Child for a unit to feel a connection and responsibility to one of their own, and that is just what Sergeant Regan, Toshia and Sarah represent, part of the unit's family.

"Everyone was very happy for Ryne and Toshia," explained Master Sgt. Sean O'Neill, 774th EAS first sergeant.

Sergeant O'Neill, who has known the Regan's for five years went on to explain, "we were all excited that he was able to at least be there via video since he couldn't be there in the hospital for birth of baby Sarah."