OCEANSIDE, California (eastidahonews.com) -- One of the 13 U.S. troops killed in the Kabul airport attack would have become a father this week.
Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, 20, from Jackson, Wyoming got married to his wife before he went on his first deployment to Jordan then to Afghanistan. Rylee was killed by a suicide bomber when he was manning a checkpoint in Afghanistan on Aug. 26. He was helping the evacuation efforts.
His wife Gigi just gave birth to their first child on Monday. One family member posted to Facebook and said, “Born on the 13th, no coincidence there.”
Gigi posted on Facebook, “Welcome to the world, my sweet baby. I love you with my whole heart.”
Levi Rylee Rose came earlier than her due date of Sep. 22. She was born at the Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton in California. She came in at eight pounds and 10 ounces at 2:18 a.m.
“Levi is the most loved baby in the country right now,” said Cheyenne McCollum, Rylee’s sister.
Cheyenne told EastIdahoNews.com that Gigi and Levi are healthy and doing well. She said that Levi is their light in life right now.
According to family members, Gigi has been living on base in San Diego. She came to Jackson last week on Friday to bring her husband’s remains home. Hundreds of locals and tourists lined the streets of downtown Jackson to honor Rylee and pay their respects.
Rylee’s body arrived from the Dover Air Force Base in Delaware by a private charter to the Jackson Hole Airport.
“He was very hard-working, he was very driven,” said Ben Arlotta, Rylee’s wrestling coach in an interview last week.
Gigi went back to California on Sunday after being in Jackson for her husband, and on Monday morning, her baby came.
A picture taken in the hospital shows Levi with a cutout picture of her father Rylee next to her.
Cheyenne told EastIdahoNews.com that she is flying out this week to meet her niece for the first time.
There are plans for Rylee’s funeral in October.
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