Life Without Borders

Two Years ago, a Commanding Officer Wrote a Letter to Our Newborn – We Did not Expect This

“Two years ago, a Commanding Officer wrote a letter to our newborn.

My husband was away at sea participating in a month long pre deployment work up. Two weeks after he left, I drove myself to the hospital in pain.

I was 33 weeks pregnant and was having contractions. I was sent home, but the pain did not go away. The next day, I had our 16-year-old daughter drive me to the hospital again.

This time I was admitted. I was given pain medication & medication to stop contractions. Nothing worked. At 1:05 a.m., on February 2, 2014, I gave birth to a beautiful 5 lb baby girl named Zadie Rose. I emailed pictures to my husband who was overjoyed, but sad to have missed everything. This was both a happy and difficult time for me. I was happy at the sight of our new addition, but sad because she was admitted into NICU. Our daughter’s lungs were not fully developed and she had problems breathing on her own.

Two days later, my husband was able to catch a flight off the ship. He arrived in San Diego and drove straight to the hospital in Oxnard, California (a 4 hour drive). When he arrived, he handed me an envelope. I opened it and was overcome with emotions. His Commanding Officer, CDR Harwood, had written a letter to our baby girl and included a squadron coin for her. He explained the reason why her father missed her birth and gave her future advice. Weeks later when the ship returned, CDR Harwood stopped by the hospital to meet Zadie Rose as well.

Zadie was in NICU for a month before we could bring her home. During this difficult time for us, this was one act of kindness that was amazing to us. This man took time to write our daughter a meaningful letter and I look forward to the day that I can hand her this special gift.”


The letter reads:

‘Dear Zadie Rose Marsik,

Welcome to an exciting world full of adventure and discovery! On the day you were born, your father was serving in the United States Navy as a member of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron ONE ONE SIX (VAW-116) aboard the USS CARL VINSON (CVN 70) aircraft carrier. I’ve had the privilege of getting to know your parents quite well, and I can assure you that there are no better role models for you to emulate. I’m proud to call them my friends. Throughout your life you will hear about your dad’s experiences in the Navy as well as the commitment that it requires. That commitment is what I’d like to tell you about.

As you move through life you are going to be faced with difficult choices. Someday you may find yourself choosing to serve the good of others, and in doing so you’ll be required to personally sacrifice. Your father made a courageous decision to serve in the United States Navy so that you could be born and grow up living free in a land of nearly boundless opportunity. Meanwhile, your mother bravely cared for you throughout your father’s many absences so that he could continue to do his duty knowing that you were safe.

These actions demonstrate great sacrifice for the good of our country and a love for you that is beyond comparison. You will spend much of your youth looking for heroes, but I want you to know that you need to look no further than your mother and father. They are living examples of greatness. I promise you that no matter how hard you look, you’ll find no greater heroes than the two people that brought you into this wonderful world.

As you grow and find your way in this world, may your journey bring you joy, love, fulfillment, laughter and peace. I hope that someday you will provide the same extraordinary example for your children that your parents have given you throughout your years of adolescence.

Zadie, please accept this VAW-116 Command Coin to serve as a reminder of the wonderful day when you were born; a day when your Dad and I were serving together with the Sun Kings of VAW-116.

Best Wishes,

D.E. Harwood
Commander, United States Navy
Commanding Officer
Carrier Airborne Early Warning
Squadron 116

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