RAF man cradled Afghan baby for exhausted mother on flight

Sergeant stepped in to help after exhausted mother dropped newborn daughter accidentally

A Royal Air Force Sergeant who cradled an Afghan baby while her mother was too weak to hold her has been praised for his touching gesture.

Andy Livingstone, 31, said he offered to hold the two-week-old girl in his arms and fitted a pair of ear mufflers on her after he saw the woman twice accidentally drop her child due to exhaustion.

The baby and her family were among thousands of Afghans who descended on Kabul airport after the Taliban seized the capital in August as part of their lightning offensive.

As an air loadmaster on the A400M aircraft, Sgt Livingstone was tasked with strapping Afghans into their seats on the flight and assisting with any urgent needs.

The woman was with her husband, baby and her three older children when the RAF man first encountered her.

He said it was clear the entire family were exhausted from their ordeal and the eldest daughter was in shock.

Speaking this week about the incident on August 26, he told Sky News: "Already I had my eye on that family, making sure they're going to be looked after for the next few hours.

"Then out the corner of my eye I see something drop on the floor and as I look over, bless her, this woman is picking up her two-week-old child.

"I go over and try and strap the baby closer, using seat belts, anything I can just to make it easier for mum and baby – and within a couple of minutes, it happened again.

"At that point, it was just the only thing I could think of to do was just plead with the family to let me take the baby for half an hour or however long they'd let me, just so she could have enough sleep to gain a little bit more energy to hold her baby."

A photo of Sgt Livingstone holding the little girl prompted an outpouring of praise on social media with some people calling for him to be given an award.

Social media users lauded him, with one asking “can we recommend him for some sort of commendation” as he represents “Britain and the RAF at its best”.

The Ministry of Defence has been contacted for comment.

Meanwhile, a British soldier who was among the service members flying Afghans from Kabul airport has spoken about what it was like hearing “constant gunshots” as they carried out their mission.

Pvt Jake Howarth, of 2nd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment, described the harrowing scenes awaiting troops when they touched down in Hamid Karzai International Airport in mid-August.

“It looked like it wasn’t organised at all. When we were walking through all you could hear was constant gunshots at that time," he said.

“If you looked at people’s faces, we were all quite shocked. We did not know what was happening. We did not know if it was Taliban or if it was coalition forces firing their rounds off.”

Updated: September 8th 2021, 10:48 AM
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