Andrew "Andy" Sinclair faces death as a soldier in Afghanistan. He braves temperatures that soar to more than 120 degrees while he drives heavy machinery as part of his mission to help rebuild that war-torn country.
But on Wednesday, the Rock Hill man's mission was to welcome the arrival of his newest daughter.
"It's awesome," said Sinclair, 26, as his face beamed with joy in a hospital room at Piedmont Medical Center. "Just that I could be here and actually see the birth and see her eyes open. I'm just so happy."
Almost on cue, the 6-pound, 15-ounce baby girl named Katelynn Marie opened her eyes and mouth. Then she stretched her long fingers.
Sinclair, minus his Army fatigues and gear, swelled with pride.
"Happiness," he said. "It's just great to see her eating, eyes all wide open."
Until Aug. 18, Sinclair was in Afghanistan serving a 15-month tour of duty as a specialist in the Charlie Company, 62nd Engineer Battalion. He wasn't supposed to return to the United States until today, but his wife, Charlene, was threatening to go into labor early.
"I got lucky that I came over (early)," he said. "She was so far along and dilated that my unit did everything they could to get me home early."
Meanwhile, Charlene, 29, hoped Sinclair would make it home in time.
"I was terrified," Charlene said. "The thought that he wasn't going to be here was scary."
Charlene started having irregular contractions Tuesday. A doctor induced her around 8 a.m. Wednesday, and Katelynn Marie arrived almost four hours later.
"I saw her look up at me," Sinclair said. "She knows who her daddy is."
Sinclair missed the birth of his 8-year-old twins, Amber and John, because of an emergency cesarean section. After he enlisted in the Army in 2005, he was set for deployment to Iraq days from the birth of his now 2-year-old daughter, Emily. But he was allowed to witness the birth and stay home for about a month.
This time, Sinclair will head back overseas after around 10 days with his newest daughter, Charlene said.
"Even though he has less time to spend with her now, I'm grateful that he got to come home and feel the kicks and movements and actually see them," Charlene said from her hospital bed. "When he left, he wasn't able to see them."
On Wednesday, Sinclair watched Katelynn Marie nurse. He stroked her brown locks. He gently rubbed her cheek. And the soldier tried to hide a tear.
"He's up for re-enlistment," Charlene said.
Sinclair had other thoughts.
"I don't think I am (going to re-enlist)," he said. "It's really hard being separated from my family that much."
Minutes after Katelynn Marie's birth, big sister Emily, with Sinclair's help, held her younger sister.
"My baby sister," the 2-year-old said.
Hours later, John sat atop a couch cradling his new sister.
"She smelled good," he said.
Amber, the older twin by a minute, was impressed with how cute her little sister was. But the third-grader at Northside Elementary School was more impressed by family unity.
"All of us are together," she said.