A local marine - who was initially denied emergency leave to see his premature newborn daughter - reunited with his family on Friday at Stony Brook University Medical Center on Long Island.
Lance Cpl. Keith Wagenhauser, a Middle Island native, arrived at LaGuarda airport late Thursday and was greeted by his wife, Cristal.
"I didn't know if I should cry," Cristal told PIX News when she was first reunited with her husband.
The couples baby, Madison Rose was born on Oct. 3 at St. Catherine Siena Medical Center in Smithtown. The infant weighed less than three pounds and as a result was rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit at Stony Brook University Medical Center for further medical attention.
Wagenhauser, assigned to an overseas unit that reportedly stands ready to back up troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, wanted to see his baby. However he wasn't initially granted emergency leave, since under standard military protocol, personnel can only be temporarily released in cases of imminent or actual death in their immediate family.
Wagenhauser told PIX News that he was devastated when he was ordered to stay overseas until his deployment ends sometime this upcoming winter
"It was pretty hard and very stressful because I was so far away," said Wagenhauser. "I couldn't be there for Cristal and Madison Rose. It broke my heart."
However, with the help of New York Senator Charles Schumer and other lawmakers earlier in the week, Wagenhauser was granted leave by military officials to see his child.
"I want to personally thank the U.S. Marine Corps Senate Liaison for their swift response to our request," Schumer said in a statement to PIX News on Mondy. "They went above and beyond to ensure LCpl Wagenhauser made it home and can now be reunited with his family during this difficult time
Wagenhauser said he was overcome with joy when he got to see his little bundle of joy for the first time.
"She's beautiful," he said. "She's mine...I'm excited and proud!"
For its part, the military said in a statement once they heard the news they began exploring ways to get Wagenhauser home, but by the time the ship was in close range of adequate transportation hubs, the command received word the child was in better health.
Wagenhauser said he is happy military officials had a change of heart.
"I'm very grateful," he said.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun