Air Force Staff Sgt. Derrick McCoy and his wife, Juestina, hit the commissary at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, on Friday evening — their focus on a New Year’s Eve party later that night.

Juestina was pregnant with the couple’s third child, but she wasn’t due for another week.

“I figured we’d go by and get some sandwiches before we went,” Derrick recalled. “Standing at the checkout line, she goes, ‘Hold on, baby, I’ll be right back.’”

A few minutes later, Juestina returned from the restroom and told him it was time.

“We took off for the hospital,” he said. “Basically, we threw the groceries in the truck and headed out to (Camp) Lester. We already knew the drill.

“The only thing we were afraid of was, it’s New Year’s Eve. The locals have big celebrations. I was worried about heavy traffic. But there was no traffic at all, and all the lights were green.”

About 10 hours later — at 4:24 a.m. Saturday, to be exact — at the U.S. Naval Hospital on Camp Lester, Juestina delivered Kaliyah Devine McCoy, who became the first baby of the new year to arrive at a U.S. military hospital in the Pacific. Measuring 19.5 inches, she weighed 7 pounds, 11 ounces.

“It’s like a new beginning — a new beginning,” said Juestina McCoy, still in a bit of pain but resting comfortably Saturday afternoon in the hospital. “It’s very special.”

Derrick, an F-15 weapons maintainer for Kadena’s 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, said the New Year’s Day birth was indeed a special event.

“The whole birth and all was special. Miracle baby. That’s what I say,” he added. “Everything came out great.

“It's very unique. Our other kids were born during the summer months. To have one on the first day of the year, it’s a great way to start the year out.”

But a holiday birthday isn’t unique in the McCoy family. Oldest daughter Jaleisha, 7, was born on Mother's Day. They also have a 6-year-old daughter, Ariana.

At the Camp Lester hospital Saturday, the nursing staff brought flowers into Juestina’s room, and more gifts were on the way. There was even talk of throwing a small party in her hospital room to mark the year’s first new arrival.

Mother and baby likely would be released Monday, hospital officials said. Derrick plans to take 30 days of leave to spend time with Kaliyah.

The family moved to Okinawa a little more than a year ago, and he also wants to take everyone out and explore the island, “if the weather allows us to,” he said. And Juestina’s mother is coming for a visit from Colorado Springs, Colo., Juestina’s hometown.

The hospital at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, was the birthplace of the first Pacific military babies in 2003 and 2004. About 550 are born there each year, officials said.

On Saturday, however, there were no new bundles of joy in the Yokosuka community, said Lt. Glory Castaneda, a registered nurse in the naval hospital’s Labor and Delivery section. By 6 p.m., no new prospective moms had been admitted.

Recovering from the New Year’s Day delivery and getting to know little Kaliyah at Camp Lester, Juestina remarked: “Now, I really have something to celebrate, instead of just the new year.”

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