My oldest son Kris is 38 years old today.

Kris Kepler - High School Graduation Picture - 1995
Kris Kepler – High School Graduation Picture – 1995

I wrote this last year for my son Kristopher’s birthday. I am sharing it again this year. On Monday, January 24, 1977 I was a second lieutenant on active duty stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington. I was serving as the weapons platoon leader (81 mm mortars and T.O.W. missiles) in Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion 47th Infantry in the 3rd Brigade of the 9th Infantry Division.

My unit was training with the 2 Battalion 77th Armor that week. In the early afternoon, I was receiving instruction of tank/infantry tactics when my company commander, Captain John Bratton told me my wife was transported to Madigan Army Hospital to deliver our first child. Diane Davenport the wife of David Davenport the 4.2 inch mortar platoon leader had taken Benita to the hospital. My driver (yes as a mortar platoon leader I had a jeep and a driver) took me to my quarters. I got my car. From there, I headed to the hospital.

Upon arrival, I found my wife Benita, and Diane. Diane stayed until I arrived to relieve her. My wife had her water break about 12:30 PM. Now it was the waiting game at the hospital. It was 4:30 PM when I arrived.

Madigan Army Hospital was a teaching hospital. I watched as over a dozen interns and residents looked at her lady parts and practiced attaching, unattaching, and reattaching a fetal monitor. At one point, she pulled the sheet over her head to hide from the endless eyes examining her.

Madigan was an old wooden frame World War I era facility. The maternity delivery room used the old hospital open ward concept with four delivery tables in the room. My wife was on one table. On another was Brenda Schwarzkopf, the wife of then, Colonel Norman Schwarzkopf. He was then commanding the 1st Brigade of the Ninth Infantry Division. Their son Christian would be born about 2 and one-half hours after our son Kristopher. I like to joke and say I was on a first name basis with future General Schwarzkopf. He called me lieutenant, and I called him sir.

Yes, I was in the delivery room. I helped coach with the breathing as we used the Lamaze technique to help with the delivery. Benita was amazing, brave and yes I watched it all.

Our son Kristopher was born just after 10 PM. I recall how excited I was to call our parents back in Texas. I called Benita’s parents first and then my parents. The time was after midnight in North Texas.With my call, both sets of parents were instantly wide awake. They were excited but not as much as I was.

Just a few days later Benita’s parents came and helped with the new baby. I know Benita was glad to see them and have their help.

Kris has added joy to our lives and continues to do so to this day. He is an outstanding man. I am proud to be his father. The picture is his graduation picture from Denison High School in Denison, Texas where he graduated in 1995.

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