Military Newborns Getting to Know Arkansas Dads by Long Distance

JULY 8, 2004 - Posted at 7:32 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The Arkansas National Guard says plenty of its soldiers serving overseas are becoming parents.  Penny Baker, coordinator for the Arkansas National Guard's Family Assistance Center, says there are many young couples with one member in the National Guard, and some are having babies while fathers are serving abroad.

Baker says the wives at home are making sure newborns regularly hear and see their fathers, even if it may be months before they meet in person.

Three-week-old Russell Mathew Luyet sees his dad every time he lies down in his crib or looks around the walls of his room.

His mother, Lesa, put up pictures of her husband in different military uniforms and at their wedding.  She says she hopes the pictures will help the baby recognize his father when he comes home.

Sergeant Richard Luyet, with the Army National Guard's First Battalion, 206th Field Artillery of the 39th Infantry Brigade, left Little Rock in November for training.  That was just weeks after his wife learned she was pregnant.  He's been overseas since March.

Even though her son can't comprehend the situation, Lesa Luyet said she assures the baby that his father loves him and will be home soon.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)