CAMP BASTION, Afghanistan -- On March 15, a bright-eyed baby girl was born at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, N.Y. However, her father, Lance Cpl. Kalib K. Walker, was thousands of miles away serving his country in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Walker, an automatic rifleman with Bravo Company, 1st Battlion, 7th Marine Regiment, and a native of Freeport, N.Y., had been training for his second deployment to Afghanistan when his wife, Mariolbis, told him she was pregnant. During his predeployment training he was given a rough estimate of his deployment date and was hopeful he would be present for the birth of his first child, Kylie. He departed the United States ten days prior to her birth for his deployment.
"When I found out my due date and realized it was around the same time Kalib was deploying, I was heartbroken," said Mariolbis Walker, Kalib's wife. "Knowing he wasn't going to be able to be with me in the delivery room to experience her birth was miserable."
Kalib's prior deployment to Afghanistan during 2012 was kinetic. He went on several patrols and missions each week and encountered enemy fire on a regular basis. The battalion's mission this deployment is to conduct security force assistance to defeat enemy forces throughout their battlespace, limited offensive operations and set conditions for the transfer of full security responsibilities to Afghan National Security Forces in Helmand province.
"I'm constantly asking myself if he is alright," Mariolbis said. "I'm worried about the possibility of him not coming home and never meeting his daughter."
Fortunately, for the time being, Kalib has been able to visually contact Mariolbis and Kylie by using video chat on his phone with the available Wi-Fi. While he lives aboard Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, he makes an effort to see his wife and child as much as possible. Due to the time zone difference between New York and Afghanistan, Kalib wakes up in the morning before the sun rises to see his wife and daughter before they fall asleep at night.
Not being there for a loved one during a time of need can put a tremendous amount of stress on an individual, especially if the individual is away in a combat zone where tomorrows are never promised. Unlike his first deployment, he now has a wife and child awaiting his return.
"I'm happy and proud to be a father," Kalib said. "Having a child definitely changed the way I think and act because I don't just make decisions for myself anymore, I make them for my family. I feel terrible because I can't be there for my wife when she needs me most, but I volunteered to fight for my country as a Marine Corps infantryman, and this is one of the sacrifices I have to make."
Kalib is slated to return home to his family during September. This is his final deployment before his current contract with the Marine Corps ends.
"I know as hard as this deployment is for me, it's ten times harder for him because he is away from his newborn daughter," Mariolbis said. "I hope he knows how proud we are of what he is doing for our country. I know he is going to be an awesome father, and I can't wait for him to start bonding with Kylie."
One of the first things Kalib plans to do when he returns from Afghanistan is to take his wife and daughter to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. Kalib plans to pursue a college education and work for a local fire department after completing his active service in the Marine Corps.