Levi Rylee Rose McCollum. Photo from Jiennah Crayton’s Facebook.
Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, 20, was one of the last Americans to die in the war in Afghanistan. He died at the Abbey Gate of Hamid Karzai International Airport on Aug. 26 in the last engagement of US troops in Afghanistan.
McCollum’s widow, Jiennah Crayton, gave birth to their daughter Monday, Sept. 13, in a world where that war is over.
The baby, named Levi Rylee Rose McCollum, weighed 8 pounds, 10 ounces Monday at Camp Pendleton, according to social media announcements made by McCollum’s family and friends.
Both Crayton and friends released a slew of pictures of the newborn baby Tuesday on social media.
A GoFundMe for the baby and McCollum’s family has raised nearly $680,000 as of Wednesday afteroon.
Welcome to the world, Levi Rylee Rose McCollum!
Your daddy was a hero ♥️ pic.twitter.com/mvMzPyGWsy
— Catharine O’Neill (@cathponeill) September 14, 2021
Rylee McCollum’s father, Jim McCollum, wrote a poem for the girl, which Crayton posted on her Facebook page.
Levi Rylee Rose
I love you little girl
You blessed us all with light and love
When you came into the world
Hold on to your mama
She’s needing you right now
You are beautiful
You brought the world together somehow
He’s watching over you
He loves you both so much
You’ll feel him with you always
A random feather
A subtle touch
I can’t wait to hold you
I’m excited to watch you grow
I love you little Levi Rylee Rose
I wanted you to know
McCollum’s body arrived Friday in his hometown of Jackson, Wyoming.
Update, 5:43 p.m., Sept. 15: This story has been updated with a link to the family’s GoFundMe page.
Editor’s note: The headline of this article was changed after publication to correctly reflect Jiennah Crayton’s marital status.
Matt White is a former senior editor for Coffee or Die Magazine. He was a pararescueman in the Air Force and the Alaska Air National Guard for eight years and has more than a decade of experience in daily and magazine journalism.
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