Photo by Heather Middleton
By Jason A. Smith
The first baby ever to be born on Christmas Day at Henry Medical Center (HMC) came back to his hometown of McDonough recently, to spend Christmas with his family.
U. S. Naval Aviator David A. Camp, who now lives in San Diego, Calif., is a pilot with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Three. He was born on Dec. 25, 1981. His historical, hospital distinction was chronicled by hospital workers 30 years ago.
His mother, Rita Camp, who works as the classified advertising manager at the Clayton News Daily, said she had made an appointment to give birth at the hospital on Christmas Day, by Cesarean section, because David was in a breech position.
"I was getting ready to go to the hospital," said Rita Camp, 54. "My water broke, and I was on my way."
She said that after she gave birth, members of the hospital's nursing staff told her David the first baby, since the hospital's inception, to be born on Christmas Day at HMC -- then known as Henry General Hospital.
"They were singing Christmas carols," she said. "I got the VIP treatment."
Camp added that she has seen a number of positive changes at the hospital over the years, including the addition of new wings and services, improved architectural design, and better overall traffic flow.
Her sister, Lynn Whitt, of Stockbridge, was with Rita when she gave birth to David, and has watched her nephew grow up. Whitt said she is "very proud" of the aviator's military accomplishments, and his desire to succeed.
"Nowadays, there are so many people who don't have drive and initiative," Whitt said. "But, he just kept working at it, and striving for the best."
Dr. Allan Dinnerstein, 71, of Savannah, delivered David Camp, one of 200-240 babies the doctor brought into the world from 1981 to 1986, during his stint in Henry.
Dinnerstein, an Obstetrics & Gynecology doctor, does not specifically recall delivering David. Even so, the doctor said he has fond memories of his experiences at the hospital. "The staff was very nice, and I enjoyed being there," he said.
Dinnerstein, who also served in the Navy, now works in the U.S. Army's Civilian Corps. The doctor admitted he was pleased to hear that one of the children he delivered chose to be in the Navy.
The experience of returning home "brings back a lot of memories," said David Camp. "McDonough is growing by leaps and bounds," he said. "I always enjoy seeing The Square, with the Christmas lights."
Camp returned to Henry County on 10 days of leave for Christmas. He said he sees numerous changes, every time he returns to his hometown. "On Jonesboro Road, there used to be nothing there but Peachtree Peddlers," he recalled. "There's all kinds of stuff there now."
He grew up in Henry, attending McDonough Primary School and McDonough Middle School, before going to Henry County Middle School. He graduated from Henry County High School in 2000. He was a member of the ROTC at Henry High. He graduated from the Citadel, took flight training courses, and was commissioned as an ensign in the Navy.
His mother said he was a "very focused child," who developed his love of flying early in life. "We were very fortunate as parents, that he stayed on that path and that he knew what he wanted to do," his mother said.
It was while Camp was in seventh grade that his passion for aviation surfaced. "My parents would take me to [Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport], just to see the planes taking off," said the pilot. "I was weaned as a naval aviator in June of 2006, and I moved to San Diego in July of 2006," he said.
His wife of six years, Megan, said she married him one week after he was commissioned. Megan Camp, 27, admitted that living a military life can be difficult, but said she is glad her husband did not choose a different branch of service.
"With the Navy, it's not as bad as the Army, where he could be gone for a year," Megan explained. "He's very good at flying. It's rewarding to see him shine, at what he loves to do."