Afghan Gives Birth Aboard Black Hawk
By Kent Harris
Stars and Stripes
March 16, 2005
BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan — The population of Afghanistan grew slightly
Saturday, thanks in part to a pair of Black Hawk crews and a 25-year-old flight
medic from Wiesbaden, Germany.
Army Spc. Kyle Storbakken helped an Afghan mother deliver a healthy 6½-pound
baby while aboard the Black Hawk flying to the U.S. military base Salerno.
"This was my first delivery," Storbakken said via a phone interview from
Salerno, a remote base a few hours away by helicopter from Bagram.
It was the first such delivery that anyone associated with the current
medical mission in country had knowledge of. Col. John Giddens, the commander of
the 249th General Hospital at Bagram, said most Afghans the hospital sees are
those critically injured by mines, accidents or attacks by anti-coalition
"It's very nice to have a joyful emergency coming through our doors," he
Peer Mullah Khan, the baby's father, is a leader of the village next to the
U.S. outpost at Skhin. Through a translator, he said he came to U.S. troops for
help when his wife started struggling during labor.
Giving birth isn't a new experience for his wife, Melawa. The baby girl, who
hasn't been named yet, is the couple's 14th child. Two have died, but the others
— ranging from the newest addition to a 19-year old girl — make for a large
family. Two sons currently serve in the Afghan army.
American officials said they agreed to take the mother and father aboard the
aircraft because it appeared that the placenta was between the baby and the
birth canal, potentially putting both lives at risk. Fortunately, that turned
out to not be the case.
In order to save time, one helicopter was dispatched from Salerno to Skhin to
pick up the mother while another left Bagram to fly to Salerno. While the first
helicopter was on its way back from the village to Salerno, the mother gave
Storbakken, assigned to the 159th Medical Company (Air Ambulance) at
Wiesbaden, said he couldn't recall any specific emotions he had while helping
deliver the baby.
"I guess you don't really think about what's going on until it's all over,"
Capt. Richard Mangini, the executive officer of the 68th Medical Company, of
which Storbakken is a part, said in-air births are a rarity. And it was even
more special because of who was delivering the baby.
"He's our youngest and probably most inexperienced medic in terms of time on
the job," he said.
Storbakken said he's already received several good-natured jabs by his peers.
"Some of the guys have been calling me daddy," he said.
The real father and mother were expected to travel back to Salerno from
Bagram on Monday with the newest member of their family.
Sound Off...What do you think?
Join the discussion.
This article is provided courtesy
of Stars & Stripes, which got its start as
a newspaper for Union troops during the Civil War, and
has been published continuously since 1942 in Europe and
1945 in the Pacific. Stripes reporters have been
in the field with American soldiers, sailors and airmen
in World War II, Korea, the Cold War, Vietnam, the Gulf
War, Bosnia and Kosovo, and are now on assignment in the
Stars & Stripes Website
Copyright 2004 Stars and Stripes. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.