30 April 2010

Surprise reunion

Jennifer Mercado leans over to kiss her boyfriend, Sgt. Andrew Peden Thursday as they spend time together with their two-day old daughter Elizabeth Grace Peden at Memorial Hospital North. Peden lost his left leg below the knee in an IED explosion last month in Kandahar province, Afghanistan. He was able to leave Walter Reed Army Medical Center for a short visit to surprise Jennifer and meet his new daughter. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette.

“I couldn’t even believe that it was real,” Mercado said of their sudden and tearful reunion at 2 p.m. Wednesday, in which Peden embraced her “for I don’t know how long” and held his daughter for the first time.

“I was crying, and he was crying, and she was just chilling,” Mercado said, referring to the calmest person in the room at the time: little Elizabeth Grace Peden, born at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday.

The 7 pound, 10 ounce newborn has a thick head of dark hair adorned with a light green ribbon that Peden traced with his fingertip Thursday while the couple recounted their story.

Peden, 28, was wounded March 24 while on a patrol in Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province, where he deployed in December as a mid-tour replacement in the 4th Brigade Combat Team’s 1st Batallion, 12th Infantry Regiment.

What a great story. Read the rest and see the heartwarming photos here.

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