Local Marine meets his baby girl

December 25, 2008 9:11:31 PM PST
A San Ramon marine just back from Afghanistan is enjoying a very special Christmas day. His big gift is a baby daughter he's meeting for the first time. She was born while he was away.

It's not what's under the Christmas tree, but who's next to it.

At least that's how Marine Lance Corporal Nick Cassell will remember this holiday, just home from a harrowing tour in Afghanistan to meet his new baby daughter Natalie.

Natalie was born five months ago, while Cassell was deployed. Until now, he'd only seen pictures of her.

In Afghanistan, Cassell's battalion trained the afghan national police. They also lost 19 of their own, including one of Casell's closest friends.

The 22-year-old also earned a Purple Heart for injuries he suffered during an ambush.

In 2007, Casell served seven months in Iraq. This time, he left for Afghanistan when his wife Jessica was just a few months pregnant.

"It's something that's really hard to go through for anyone and especially not having your husband. It's worrying every day, first about the baby and then about whether he's okay. So, it's really nice to have him home," said Nick's father Jessica Casell.

Cassell does not expect to be deployed again. He will be discharged from the Marine Corps in September and then plans to attend college.

Cassell's parents were there when their son met his daughter, for the first time.

"It was nice to see him and the interaction between them and the excitement and the smiling and the laughing. And the relief on his face that he made it back," said Nick dad Craig Casell.

"I am thankful and grateful that he's home," said Nick's mom Vicki Casell.

But that's for later. For now, he's content just getting to know this little gift.


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