Speed Reads

It wasn't all bad

Soldier took 10 flights, traveled 8,000 miles to make it home in time for daughter's birth

He thought he was giving himself plenty of time to make it back to the United States for the birth of his first child, but Army Sgt. Francois Clerfe's daughter made sure he cut it close.

Clerfe was in Iraq, and hopped on his first flight Dec. 23 for Kuwait. He ended up taking 10 flights and traveling 8,000 miles, finally making it to Monterey, California, on Dec. 31 — more than a week ahead of his daughter's Jan. 9 due date. Not long after he arrived home, Clerfe went for a walk with his wife, Natalia Svistunova, and she almost immediately went into labor.

Their daughter, Julia Clerfe, was the first baby born in 2018 at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, and her proud dad told Today he's "very grateful that she waited for me as well as grateful to those who played a part in making this possible. Obstacles in anyone's life path can be breached if equipped with the right tools." When his paternity leave is up, Clerfe will report back to Fort Polk in Louisiana, and hopes to soon be stationed in California so he can be close to his family. Catherine Garcia