Fort Jackson soldier meets newborn son after watching birth from gun range

Published: Nov. 25, 2014 at 6:51 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 5, 2014 at 6:59 PM EST
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FORT JACKSON, SC (WIS) - It's quite common for Fort Jackson soldiers to meet their newborn babies at Family Day before Basic Training graduation.

But it's not the first time Pvt. Zachary Rush has seen his baby. He watched little Colton Zachary Rush's birth. From the gun range.

"The fact that all the gunfire being in the background, it kind of brought me back to home," Rush said. The doctors heard the gunfire from the delivery room in an Alabama hospital and asked what was going on.

The day the baby was born, Rush's unit was training on small arms. Chaplain Capt. Colt Randles arranged for Rush to watch a live stream of the baby's birth from Baptist East Hospital in Montgomery, Alabama. The baby's mother, Peyton Howell, could see and hear Rush from an iPad in the delivery room.

"Just hearing his voice made it better," she said. This is the couple's first baby.

When asked if the gunfire scared her, she said, "It was the last thing I was worried about."

"He'd already shot his weapon, so he had the time to spend," Randles said. "So I asked his chain of command and they said, 'Sure, take him.' So we went and sat down in the pine straw and dialed up Alabama and there were his family and his extended family in the delivery room and he got to be right there with them."

"I'm thankful for a chain of command that allows us to afford that to the soldiers because they certainly wouldn't have the opportunity without it."

Rush is grateful for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity Randles gave him. Randles also was present when Rush met Colton for the first time on Family Day.

"It was very important," Rush said. "He helped me get through a lot and I'm just very grateful to him. Thank you, sir."

A connection like this is just another day on the job for Randles.

"For something as easy for me as it is for putting a phone in the hand of a solider and connect them with their family in a once-in-a-lifetime life event, it's too easy for us to do it and it sure means a whole lot for them."

About 11 members of Rush's family made the trip from Alabama for his graduation. His mother, Kimberly, said she was born while her father was deployed in Vietnam and she didn't meet him until she was five months old. They all are celebrating Colton's first Thanksgiving in Columbia.

"When I work with the soldiers personally, I like to think about what would I think if I was in their shoes," Randles said. "What if this was my brother? My cousin? And I know the importance of being connected with family."

"It was amazing to be able to be there," he said. "In an intimate moment, with that soldier, was really precious."

"I didn't expect him," Rush said of meeting his son for the first time with a kiss. "But he's so freaking' cute. He looks just like both of us."

Pvt. Rush is with Echo Company, 3rd battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment of the 165th Infantry Brigade and a native of Eclectic, AL. His next assignment is AIT at Fort Sill. Chaplain Capt. Colt Randles is assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment. 

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