Not many people can say that they were born at 12,000 feet, but that’s how it happened for Michigan’s Andy Howay on New Year’s Day 1986.
His mother, JoAnn Howay, went into premature labor that day, and when she arrived at the local hospital in Alpena, Mich., the doctors thought she’d be better cared for at a hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit.
It would take a three-hour drive to get there, if the baby could wait that long. The other option was a 20-minute flight by Coast Guard HU-25 Falcon jet, one of which just happened to be in the area on a training flight.
About halfway through the flight, JoAnn knew she couldn’t wait any longer. An on-board surgeon and nurse delivered her son in the back of the 2110.
To honor the life saved that day, a plaque was installed on the jet back home at at the Air Logistics Center in Elizabeth City, N.C.
It reads, “On January 2nd 1986, Andy Lee Howay made a smooth transition into this world from 12,000 feet above it.”
Andy, JoAnn and their family got to go back to the 2110 Aug. 9, when the jet’s crew from that fateful day invited them to a retirement ceremony for the aircraft.
“When things were quiet on the hangar deck, I would take the opportunity to walk out to the plane, look at the plaque and reflect on the event,” wrote Retired Senior Chief Petty Officer William Entriken, the 2110’s former flight mechanic, as part of a Coast Guard Compass blog post. “I’d always wonder how JoAnn, Andy and their families were doing. I have my answer now.”