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Returning NCOs hold newborns for first time

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Shane Dunaway
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
When Airmen deploy, they make many sacrifices and miss significant moments while separated from their loved ones. Some miss weddings, some miss funerals and some even miss the birth of their own children. 

Two noncommissioned officers recently experienced holding their newborn children for the first time after returning from deployment Aug. 5. 

For Tech. Sgt. Michael Knipmeyer, 36th Civil Engineer Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of readiness and emergency management, the opportunity to hold and see his first-born child face-to-face was an "awesome" experience. 

"On the trip home, we kept getting diverted and I didn't think we were ever going to get here," Sergeant Knipmeyer said. "That made me even more anxious because I was so ready to get home and see my wife and daughter. Coming down the escalator at the airport and seeing them at the bottom was a great feeling. She's a lot bigger than I thought she would be." 

As unique as the experience may have been, it wasn't his first true interaction with his four-month-old bundle of joy, Ava. 

According to Tech. Sgt. Rhonda Knipmeyer, 36th Force Support Squadron manpower and organization analyst, her husband went to great lengths to ensure he developed a rapport with Ava, including pre-recording videos of himself reading baby books and installing a webcam on their computer so he could see his child from afar. 

It may not have been his first-born child, but returning home to see his newborn didn't diminish the experience for Tech. Sgt. Todd Tomlinson, 36th Security Forces Squadron. 

"It was awesome!" Sergeant Tomlinson said. "I had flown for 48 hours straight and I was very happy to see my daughter." 

Sergeant Tomlinson received weekly updates via e-mail and phone during his 190-day deployment, keeping him entrenched in the loop on his daughter's progress. 

"Once our daughter Emily was born, I sent him several pictures and talked to him as frequently as possible," said Staff Sgt. Lisa Tomlinson, 36th FSS Airman Leadership School instructor. "Even though Emily could not talk to him, I [held] the phone to her ear so she could hear daddy talk to her. Since he has been back, you would have thought he had been here all along. They get along really well and our [5-year-old] son Tyler loves being the big brother!"