“Someone said, ‘we took off with 270 children, and we landed with 271,” Lt. Col. Wesley Adams, C-17 Globemaster III pilot.
On Aug. 23, 2021, a C-17 Globemaster III aircrew belonging to 315th Airlift Wing from Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina helped to deliver a baby aboard their airlifter carrying Afghans evacuated from Afghanistan moments before landing at a Middle East staging area with a jet filled with evacuees.
As told by Michael Dukes, 315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs, in the article ‘Baby on board’ – Aircrew deliver Afghan baby on evacuation flight, while in a holding pattern waiting to land, Capt. Dennis Conner, 701st Airlift Squadron (AS) aircraft commander, received a report from loadmaster, Tech Sgt. Leah Schmidt, also 701st AS, that there was a situation on the aircraft’s cargo deck.
Schmidt said there was a woman in distress who shut herself in the lavatory and was resisting assistance. Because of the potential medical emergency, Schmidt and Conner agreed they needed to land the jet as soon as possible.
Capt. Leslie Green, an active duty Air Force flight nurse with the crew, determined the woman in the bathroom was delivering a baby after having quickly assessed the situation with Schmidt.
Then, at about 1,000 feet in the air, Green, with the assistance of Schmidt, began to deliver the baby.
“The baby was perfect! … a little bit small; it definitely didn’t make it full term, but it came out crying,” Green said. “She [the baby] seemed to be doing well in this world.”
When Conner was told that a baby had been born on the flight deck, he said the jet was at an elevation of 800 feet.
“I think it was one of my best experiences,” Green added.
“Same here,” Schmidt said. “It tops anything I’ve ever been through.”
“It was the smoothest landing I’ve ever seen Capt. Conner make — it was very smooth,” said Lt. Col. Wesley Adams, 701st AS pilot.
After landing the C-17, “The EMTs on the ground were in the jet within seconds.”
“I think Capt. Green really stepped up and did a great job,” said Tech. Sgt. Dennis Hiott, 701st AS loadmaster.
“That was my first full delivery,” Green admitted. “But it wasn’t really hard. [The mother] really did the hardest part herself.”
“Someone said, ‘we took off with 270 children, and we landed with 271,” Adams said.
The Air Force routinely adds flight nurses and medics to its evacuation missions in the event of potential medical emergencies during these flights.
The 315th AW and other US and allied military organizations remain focused on facilitating the safe evacuation of US citizens, Special Immigrant Visa applicants, and other vulnerable Afghans, to get these personnel out of Afghanistan as quickly and as safely as possible.
As already reported, Reach 871, a C-17 from the 436th Air Wing, based at Dover Air Force Base (AFB), Delaware, safely transported 823 Afghan citizens from Hamid Karzai International Airport on Aug. 15, 2021 setting a reacord for the C-17.
On that day, an audio from the crew estimating they were carrying 800 passengers was posted online but an anonymous defense official then said the true number was about 640 people.
But after a few days, Air Mobility Command (AMC) said that the initial count of 640 inadvertently included only adults. 183 children were also aboard.
The original number was based on how many bus seats were filled departing the aircraft and didn’t account for the number of children in laps.
On Aug. 21, another C-17 (call sign Reach 828) landed at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, with 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 call sign.
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force