Soldier reunites with pregnant wife
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Megan Keeney anxiously stood near the Yeager Airport arrival gate Tuesday.
"I'm shaking," she laughed, as friends and family stood all around her.
For hours, she waited and waited for her husband's delayed flight to arrive from Washington. At about 8:20 p.m., she gasped as Jonathan Keeney, wearing Army fatigues, appeared from the arrival tunnel. She embraced him and kissed him, and he put his hands on his wife's belly to feel his son, Jaxon, kicking for the first time.
Jonathan and Megan kissed again before they walked back toward their friends and family, who were holding balloons and signs of support.
"I'm happy now," she said through her tears.
Jonathan, a patrolman with the South Charleston Police Department and five-year Army veteran, was back home for the birth of his son. Doctors have told the couple the boy has a serious heart condition.
Jonathan left for Afghanistan with the 305th MP unit out of Wheeling on Christmas Day, 2011. Jonathan and Megan were high school sweethearts at Elk View Christian School and got married on July 30, 2011.
David Keeney, Jonathan's father, said his son has had a passion for the military since he was a child.
"He and one of his best friends, who is now an officer in the military, would come down here to visit us from Ohio. And I remember one time, Jonathan and Josh were wearing their military fatigues as kids going through the mall with their mothers," he laughed.
Jonathan was in his second military tour, but he wanted to be there for his wife when she had her first child.
"It means everything to finally be able to feel my baby boy kick," Jonathan said. "After hearing my whole family for seven months, it's what I've been waiting for."
Megan is scheduled to go to Morgantown at midnight tonight. She will be intubated, and Jaxon will have emergency heart surgery once he is born.
Jonathan said he was determined to be home for the birth as soon as Megan informed him of the situation via Skype. He began asking his superiors for a leave at the end of February or the beginning of March.
David Keeney said his son was given the opportunity to leave, but problems arose that almost prevented him from making it back in time.
"We kept getting dates," said Carla Anderson, Megan's mother. "He was supposed to leave on the 21st, then the 27th, then June 1st."
David said Jonathan finally made it to Germany last Thursday. He was within one flight of the United States when he was once again bumped from his scheduled flight.
That's when his family got involved. They left messages with many state political leaders Sunday, hoping they could help get him back home in time for his son's birth.
"His family learned he might not be able to get the next flight out until June 7, well after the baby was being born," said Wes Holden, director of constituent services for Sen. Jay Rockefeller.
"So the senator got in touch with the Pentagon and got in touch with the appropriate people, who took immediate action, and within a couple hours, they went through Jonathan's command and was able to get him on the next flight out."
David said he wasn't expecting Jonathan's situation to be worked out so quickly.
"I didn't know what to think," Jonathan said. "That much support for one individual that really just wanted to get home for a baby, that really means the world."
When Jonathan called Megan Sunday night and told her he would be home in less than 24 hours, she was elated.
"I was screaming," Megan said.
"I wanted to jump up and down, but I was afraid," she laughed.
David said Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va, and Sens. Joe Manchin and Rockefeller, both D-W.Va, were instrumental in getting Jonathan home.
"The people were fantastic. Every single one of them," David said. "All three offices were strongly involved. All of them were fantastic, in their compassion, their help, their contacts in the military to get Jonathan where he needed to be."
Jonathan, exhausted from his trans-Atlantic flight, said he and his wife were going to "hit up some food joints" on the way to their home in St. Albans from the airport. Then, he hopes to get some sleep and catch up with his wife before they travel to Morgantown later today.
"He's been gone so long," Megan said. "It's gonna be weird having him home, but I'm so excited."