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The Mallo Family, Stony Brook

Each year, members of the United States military ship out to distant areas of the world. Their work is done in service to this country and they can never be sure if, or when, they will return. In many cases, they leave behind families, spouses and loved ones. In 2013, this was the case for Greg Mallo of Stony Brook, whose wife, Kimberly, was expecting their first child.

"On January 3, I put on my brown camouflage uniform, gathered up my M6 rifle and boarded a bus with rest of my battalion to begin deployment as a Navy Medical Officer to Afghanistan in support of the U.S. Marines," said Greg Mallo.

"Having recently discovered that my wife Kim was pregnant, she and I shared an especially tearful goodbye, prepared for the very real possibility that I would not be home in time to witness the birth of our first child."

Greg continued, "After I left, Kim chose to return home [from the military base] to family in Setauket and give birth at St. Charles Hospital. Over the next few months, I used Skype and Facetime to follow the pregnancy and share this experience with her. Even though I was thousands of miles away, I was able to view the ultrasound appointment when we learned we were having a boy.

"I returned from duty just three weeks before our son, Drew, was born," said Greg. "I felt blessed to share the entire surreal birth experience with Kim and our family. But I believe we also shared it with the St. Charles family. Everyone there --from the support staff, to the nurses and doctors--went above and beyond to make us feel comfortable, helping to alleviate the early anxieties of first time parenthood."

He added, "We were so impressed with the St. Charles family and the wonderful people that work there, we chose St. Charles for the birth of our second child, a daughter, who we welcomed into the world last summer."