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'I think her Daddy had a hand in this:' Army widow gives birth on Veterans Day

"We still take it day by day and sometimes hour by hour," Krista Johnston said. "It still doesn't feel real."

COPPERAS COVE, Texas — Krista Johnston sat on her brown leather couch in her living room with three Christmas stockings draped on the back of it as she holds her baby girl, Jamie Avery-Grace Johnston.

"Is that what you're looking for? Oh yeah, you are just bright-eyed right now aren't you?" Krista said to Jamie smiling down at her.

Not far from Johnston' mind is the reminder that her husband James is not home to enjoy the beautiful girl he always wanted.

"It was a normal day for me," she recalled about the day she learned her husband was killed in action. "The Army knocked on my door late that night but I was asleep, I didn't wake up."

She said her mother-in-law called her at 6:30 a.m. to tell her that the Army had called, looking for her and wanted to know if she knew anything. Krista said she didn't know anything, but when her mother-in-law said they used her maiden name, which she hadn't gone by in years, Krista knew immediately that something was wrong.

"She thought it was a scam," Krista said. "But I knew that was the name he put on his emergency contact list. At that point, I knew something was wrong."

Within the hour the Army was at Krista's door to tell her James was killed in Afghanistan.

"He didn't have to go on this deployment because he just got back from Korea," Krista said. "This was something he begged his leadership to allow him to do. His orders weren't to be there, they were to be here. But he needed to go and wanted to be with his unit because he didn't feel he was doing enough if he didn't go."

James and Krista were high school sweethearts. The day before he deployed to Afghanistan in March, he learned his wife was pregnant with his first child. Both of them were excited and Krista was admittedly scared.

"Before he left, I actually had a dream that I would get pregnant if he wasn't coming home to me." she said. "I was scared that would happen. And that's exactly what happened."

Baby Jamie, named after her Dad, was born 236 days after James deployed to Afghanistan -- on Veterans Day.

"Eleven-eleven, on Veterans Day. Two weeks early!" Krista said with a big smile. "I think her Daddy had a hand in that one. To know that I had her on that day and that day will forever be for him and for her now. I knew that not only was I holding her that day but he was too."

As Jamie will start her life, Krista said she can't wait to share the countless stories of her Daddy, his love of karaoke, 'Theory of a Deadman' and some country music. 

"She definitely has his patience, so if she does not get something she wants immediately, we know about it" she said. "I'm just waiting to see if she'll have his beautiful brown eyes, too. I have my fingers crossed."

With each day that passes, however, Krista admitted she had so much more to process and so much more to work through. She said Jamie is her priority and focus.

"We still take it day by day and sometimes hour by hour," she admitted. "It still doesn't feel real. I wait for him to walk through that door even though I know he's not coming."

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