CAMP HORNO, CA – A pair of breastfeeding airmen outside the infantry barracks at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton "aren't fooling anyone," according to Gunnery Sergeant Leon Rashaun of 1st Battalion 4th Marines.
The mothers, Senior Airman Rebecca Henderson and Airman First Class Emily Rowe, who are normally stationed at Edwards Air Force Base, have been coming by every day for the past two months, which, according to Gunny Rashaun, "is exactly how long both their husbands have been deployed overseas."
Both women waved at the Gunnery Sergeant, prompting him to give a forced smile through gritted teeth.
Senior Airman Henderson then asked if Alpha Company had come back from their field operation yet.
Airman First Class Rowe then laughed and reminded her that Alpha Company had been in the field last week and Charlie Company was out this week.
"I'm just so happy to be out here with my son Seth," Senior Airman Henderson said, nursing her infant in front of a large crowd of Marines.
"The Marines here have been so supportive, asking if they can carry my son's diaper bag, help burp him, massage my shoulders, that sort of thing."
"We're totally supportive of all the young mothers around here," said Sergeant Nathan Devine, also of 1st Battalion 4th Marines. "It can be awfully difficult for them, what with their husbands all the way in Afghanistan... so far away..."
Corporal Anthony Bugg agreed: "If they want to breastfeed in public, or just in the privacy of our barracks rooms, that's fine with us."
According to the American Association of Pediatrics, breastfeeding is a critical health decision, vital to the welfare of new infants, a fact repeatedly stressed by Corpsman HM3 Richard Hanson.
"New mothers need to breastfeed as often as possible, no matter how sore or tired they may be," said HM3 Hanson.
"That's why all our corpsmen are trained in the art of proper nipple stimulation to help them ensure that their baby gets an adequate supply of milk."