Miracles happen everyday. Sometimes you get lucky and lightning strikes twice. One USS MOBILE BAY Sailor had that kind of day recently and did something new and unexpected, at least for a ship at-sea, consummating a moment that is sometimes a bittersweet one for those deployed away from families. On the 13th of December FC2 Kerry Yates, diligently working at-sea on his current deployment in the Arabian Gulf, became a new father. His first and only daughter, Madeleine Yates, was born in San Diego, weighed 9.1 pounds and was 21 ½ inches long. A miracle to Kerry and his wife Heidi that marked the day as a special one for the family all by itself. But there was more to that memory than typically meets the eye for a sailor away from home. Through extensive coordination and planning only a mere two hours after Heidi came out of labor, Petty Officer Yates not only got to talk to his wife and newborn daughter, he got to see them. An unprecedented feat at-sea, Petty Officer Yates and his family got to have their very own Video Telecommunications Conference (VTC) to celebrate together making the day something they will treasure together in a way that has only recently been made possible.
The Yates family VTC came about through various contacts spanning across half of the world. The efforts for the family occurred onboard USS MOBILE BAY, at Balboa Hospital in San Diego, and even with support from sailors in Hawaii. “ITC [Goodloe]. ITC really made this happen for me,” Yates stated. FC2 Yates gave ample credit to ITC Goodloe for all of his efforts coordinating this monumental event. When the idea was first presented, Chief Goodloe was quick to inform him that, “I know Balboa has a tele-medicine suite which is essentially a mobile VTC unit that they can move from room to room.” From there, the help didn’t cease until the successful completion of the VTC for Yates and his family. Coordinating with Ed Sanford, Head of Telecommunications and Mike LaFrance, VTC Manager at Balboa and Makalapa in Hawaii, the operation was completed seamlessly. Every “I” was dotted and every “T” crossed when it came to the schematics of the VTC. Time management between all sites to ensure connectivity and availability and even obtaining a single bed recovery room for Heidi to create as serene an environment as possible, were just a few steps taken by all parties involved. The VTC helped Yates and his family through this incredible event together even when they were a world apart.
Petty Officer Yates knew that this day would come stating that, “It’s unfortunate that I can’t be there, but the circumstances are understandable.” A deployment is a part of being in the Navy that does not go away, and is a sacrifice all are willing to make to keep their families safe, but in no way does that mean life does not continue on back home. This fortunate event proves that even though Sailors are gone, they are never far away. Efforts will always be taken to ensure Navy Sailors are able to maintain contact with their lives at home, and even in times like these individuals will take great strides to allow peoples ever changing life to be part of their deployment. Deployments will always be a part of sailor’s lives, and sailor’s lives will be a part of deployments. Luckily though, through advances in technology and the hard work and support of everyone around them, Sailors are more and more capable of interacting with their loved ones no matter where they may be. In this case a dream came true and in a sense, proved that lightning really can strike twice.