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Wife gives birth while husband home on leave

[1/1/04]The wife of a Vicksburg soldier gave birth to their first child Wednesday, on the last full day of his first trip home since joining the U.S. Army.

Pfc. Jeremiah Riggs, 21, was two days away from returning to Georgia for further U.S. training when his wife, Chasity, checked in to River Region Medical Center, he said. At 11:57 a.m. Wednesday the baby, Jeremiah Jace Riggs, was born, he said.

Chasity, 18, said Wednesday from her hospital room that she was doing fine after giving birth to the baby, which was not due until Jan. 17, but happened to arrive while her husband was still home on leave.

“I’m very happy that he came when he did,” she said of her husband’s trip home.

“Luckily it came early,” Jeremiah Riggs said at his home while he packed his duffel bag to return to duty. “I couldn’t have made it that long.”

Set to return today for six more weeks of training and then prospective assignment to a battalion, Riggs said he would not have been able to return home for the baby’s birth had it arrived two days later. He is set to participate in Airborne and then Ranger training.

“I could have but I would’ve lost my Airborne contract,” Riggs said when asked if he could have returned to be with his wife during childbirth.

Riggs, a 2001 graduate of Porters Chapel Academy in Vicksburg, said he had completed 14 weeks of training at Ft. Benning, Ga., where he will return for jump school. He said he earned “top gun” honors in Javelin anti-tank-weaponry training.

Before joining the Army, Riggs attended one year of school at Mississippi Delta Community College, where he was on a football scholarship as a running back, he said.

Chasity’s parents live “right down the hill” from the couple’s home, and have been able to help her during the pregnancy, he said.

Coincidentally, the baby was born on the 21st birthday of Riggs’ good friend, Allen Pugh, who is also engaged to his sister. Pugh was with Riggs as he packed for his return.

“He called me on a boat and said, Hey, man, happy birthday, and I’m having a baby,” Pugh said. “I said, How fast can this boat go?'”

Riggs said that during his break, he had also been able to go deer hunting and kill one of his first large bucks, a 10-point.

He said the trip was his first since he joined the Army in May or June.

“It’s been a good first trip, too,” he said.

After Riggs becomes attached to a Ranger battalion and gets settled in housing there, the family plans for Chasity and the baby to move to join him. They would most likely be based at Ft. Stewart, Ga., he said.

Riggs said he expects to be deployed to the Middle East after he completes his training. He added that he does not expect his deployment to last as long as those of some area reservists, including his father, Jeff Riggs.

Since February Jeff Riggs has been serving in the Middle East, including inside Iraq, with the 168th Engineer Group of the Mississippi Army National Guard. His full-time civilian job is as undersheriff at the Warren County Sheriff’s Department.

Jeremiah Riggs said the latest estimate of his father’s return to Vicksburg is April of this year.