With warm hearts, Facebook, Warrior Country wives rally to aid newlyweds

By Franklin Fisher

CAMP RED CLOUD South Korea -- About a month ago a close-knit group of Army wives were chatting at lunch in Uijeongbu when one of them caught the group's attention with a word about her new neighbors.

A young Soldier had recently moved in next door, and his newlywed wife, only 18, was 36 weeks pregnant and showing alarming signs of a likely premature delivery.

But all the couple had in the way of baby things were a few outfits, a box of diapers and a couple of baby bottles. No crib, no car seat, you name it. All their household stuff was still crossing the ocean from the states.

"And we were 'Whoa! We need to do something," recalled Cindy McQuarrie, one of the women at the lunch.

The women who heard this were all members of family readiness groups, or FRGs, formed to support various companies at Camp Red Cloud. FRGs look to give moral and emotional support as well as practical help to military families coping with deployments and other aspects of military life.

They immediately started brainstorming a game plan. "We kind of got very motherly," she said. "What does she need, what does she have, has she gone to the doctor?" Meanwhile, the expectant mother, Destinee Macaulay, was enduring the strains of pregnancy. Bouts of contractions, hospital visits, false alarms.

Destinee is married to Pvt. Brian Macaulay, 19, of Morristown, Tenn. He's a forward observer with Company A, Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division.

They were high school sweethearts and had both been in the JROTC program at Jefferson County High School in Dandridge, Tenn. They married last May after graduation.

They needed plenty: a crib, playpen, lots of diapers, more baby clothes of all types, blankets, more bottles, not to mention a car seat, you name it.

McQuarrie had an inspiration: she'd create a special Facebook page for an online baby shower.

"Nowadays, everything is all electronic, and on computer, people invite people for birthdays and baby showers and stuff like that," she said.

"So I figured, 'Why can't we have a baby shower online? Then people can just drop off the stuff,'" she said.

Things took off, the help poured in. "Within an hour a mother said, 'Hey, I have a car seat, she can have it,'" said McQuarrie.

"And it wasn't even a day or two before people started dropping off stuff for the family or the baby or just asking how can they help, either money card or diapers, clothes, crib.

"Word of mouth, word of mouth, I mean it just kept going," said McQuarrie. "You know, 'Hey, I heard about this Facebook baby shower, this couple needs help. How can I help? Where are they located at? What hospital are they at?'"

Along the way, two of the women, Melissa Hammon and Rachel Riley, the Company A FRG leader, went with her on nearly all of her five or six urgent hospital trips, which were to the 121st Combat Support Hospital in Seoul and St. Mary's Hospital in Uijeongbu. When Destinee spent three days at St. Mary's, Riley stayed with her the whole time, sleeping on a couch.

Then, on a Friday evening, Feb. 10, Destinee's contractions got going again. She phoned her husband to say she was heading down to the 121st. Heavy with child, she climbed aboard the on-post bus at Camp Red Cloud and made the trip. It snowed on the way.

Hours later, Destinee gave birth to Veda Louise Fate Macaulay, who entered this world at 4:32 a.m. Feb. 11, a Saturday, 19 inches long and weighing eight pounds even.

Brian was in the room during the delivery.

"It was different, I'm not gonna lie," he said. "I was a little woozy."

Destinee said she's fine too, and warmly grateful for the help and kindness she's received.

Thanks to the Facebook baby shower the Macaulays got all they needed: the car seat, clothes, diapers, wipes, a baby swing, bouncy seat, bassinet, lots else. "It definitely helped a lot," said Destinee. "If they wouldn't have done it," she said of the Facebook baby shower, "we wouldn't have had much." McQuarrie was touched.

"Having the community come together like this was really an amazing feeling," she said, "to know that we are here for each other -- 'the tough get going' -- and we have friends we can rely on.

"That was very moving for me," she said.

"I guess they're more like family," Destinee said of the women from the FRGs. "Even though I haven't met some of them, they still cared enough about my family and me to help me out, even though they didn't know me."