“Alex Callahan,” the nickname for a baby boy left in a plastic bag near Forward Operating Base Callahan, sleeps soundly at the Coalition base in northern Baghdad. The baby was thoroughly checked out by medics and given a clean bill of health.(U.S. Army photo)
BAGHDAD, Iraq (April 9, 2008) — Spotting irregularities is a tactic that is drilled into the minds of Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers throughout training and in practice while in Iraq.
Soldiers recently watched as a car pulled up to an entry control point at Forward Operating Base Callahan in northern Baghdad. They continued to watch as a woman stepped out of the car holding a bag. Once the woman dropped the bag near the gate, internal alarms were ringing and a careful search was called for and conducted.
That search yielded a newborn baby wrapped tightly in cloth. Soldiers raced to the bag, retrieved the child and brought him to the aid station to be examined.
“We unwrapped it to make sure he was alive – and he wasn’t sick, he wasn’t dead, he wasn’t injured,” said Staff Sgt. Paul Briscoe, the aid station non-commissioned officer in charge at FOB Callahan. “He was a perfectly healthy baby. I’m guessing three to seven days old. He was in perfect health. There wasn’t a scratch on him.”
This unlikely sight brought images of the Las Vegas native’s two children to mind.
“It was like my kids were newborns again,” said Briscoe, who serves with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad.
After the medics were satisfied the baby, who by this time had drawn the nickname “Alex Callahan” after the Soldier who found him and the name of the base, was in no need of immediate medical attention, the focus shifted to what they would do with the child.
An interpreter working at the base volunteered to go to a nearby store to buy diapers and formula while another interpreter took care of Alex. Briscoe said the aid station became a hub of activity as word spread throughout the small base of the new arrival.
“I’ve fed him twice, just holding him, watching him, making sure that he’s alright,” said Doreen Haddad, an interpreter with 1-68 AR, who helped care for Alex. “I’ve changed his diapers twice. I wanted to give him a bath, but I wasn’t able to.”
While a forward operating base isn’t the ideal location for a baby, Soldiers and those working at FOB Callahan ensured that Alex’s stay there was as comfortable as possible.
The baby is to be adopted by the brother of a local national, who works at the base. The brother, and his wife, have been married five years and have been unable to have a baby of their own. The interpreters at FOB Callahan have taken a collection to donate to the family to help care for the baby.
Despite the thousands of miles that separates the Soldiers from their families in Colorado, one constant remains with this baby and those they left behind.
“He’s sleeping and pooping, just like a regular baby,” Briscoe said.