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Keeping New Dads Connected
by U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Dana D. Legg - January 2, 2016

GULF OF OMAN -- Advancements in technology and communication help close the distance between Sailors and families to help maintain their connection during deployment. Two new fathers, thousands of miles away from home and loved ones, utilized these advancements.

The communication technology allowed two Sailors currently deployed aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) the opportunity to meet their newborn sons during a video teleconference (VTC) on Jan. 13, 2016.

Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class John MacDonald, from Nashville, Tennessee, and Aviation Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Richard Boone, from Petersburg, Virginia, talked with their wives and saw their newborn sons live for the first time during the VTC.

Aviation Machinist's Mate 3rd Class, from Petersburg, Va., speaks to his wife, daughter and newborn son in the flag plot conference room during a video teleconference call (VTC) aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3). Kearsarge is the flagship for the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and, with the embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Aren Everett)
January 13, 2016 - Aviation Machinist's Mate 3rd Class, from Petersburg, Va., speaks to his wife, daughter and newborn son in the flag plot conference room during a video teleconference call (VTC) aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3). Kearsarge is the flagship for the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and, with the embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Aren Everett)

“It felt amazing seeing my family,” said MacDonald. “My son was born Dec. 8, 2015, and I had yet to see him in real time. It was a blessing for sure.”

Each Sailor was able to chat with their family for approximately 15 minutes. Boone described the video chat as a very emotional experience for him and his wife.

“My favorite part was the interaction between my son and me,” said Boone. “I made my wife videos of me talking to my son so she can play them everyday and then he would get used to my voice. He remembered my voice from the videos and started smiling at the screen while I watched them and talked.”

This is the first time Kearsarge has organized a VTC for new fathers this deployment.

Religious Program Specialist 1st Class Jerry Hutchins, who helped organized the call, emphasized the importance of trying to keep Sailors connected to their families.

“The whole point is to connect new parents with their newborns,” said Hutchins. “We aren't able to send them home during deployment, so this is a way for them to stay connected with their families.”

The VTC was appreciated by the Sailors and their families back home.

“I was so excited to see my family,” said MacDonald. “I loved seeing my wife and my mother-in-law, and seeing my son was incredible. He was wide awake and seemed to recognize my voice from the audio books.”

Kearsarge is the flagship for the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and, with the embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

By U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Dana D. Legg
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2016

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