“The parent asked the Marines to look after the baby because the baby was ill,” John Kirby, the Pentagon’s spokesman, told reporters in Washington.
“And so the Marine you see reaching over the wall took it to a Norwegian hospital that’s at the airport. They treated the child and returned the child to the child’s father,” he added.
Kirby called what unfolded “an act of compassion” and said he didn’t know of any similar incidents.
Thousands of Afghans have been waiting outside the U.S.-held Hamid Karzai International Airport to try to get special visas that would get them passage to the United States or another country.
U.S. officials are preparing space for tens of thousands of Afghan nationals, granting visas to those who helped U.S. troops during the decades-long war, as well as Afghans who are at risk from the Taliban if they remain in their homeland.
The U.S. soldier who took the baby into the airport was part of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Marine Corps spokesman Maj. Jim Stenger confirmed to news outlets.
“This is a true example of the professionalism of the Marines on site, who are making quick decisions in a dynamic situation in support of evacuation operations,” he said in a statement.
The chaotic scene in Kabul, which includes Americans and other foreigners attempting to get past Taliban checkpoints to the airport, has led to dramatic scenes like the baby being hoisted over the wall.
In another instance, some 823 Afghan citizens were packed onto an American C-17 Globemaster III this week and flown to the United States. That set a new record for the aircraft, the military said, after it revealed it initially had not counted the 183 children on board.
The Afghans rushed onto the empty plane and packed themselves in, and the crew decided to take off rather than make the nationals stay in their country.
The U.S. military has also touted that situation as an example of the U.S. troops acting with humanity and skill. The commander of the plane said the troops were saving lives.
“A lot of people talk about rules and capacity; we were trained to handle that, to max perform that aircraft. We have women and children and people’s lives at stake. It’s not about capacity or rules and regulations—it’s about the training and the directives that we were able to handle to make sure we could safely and effectively get that many people out,” Lt. Col. Eric Kut, mission commander for the flight, said on CNN.
The United States is scheduled to be in Afghanistan until Aug. 31, though officials have suggested that date will be pushed back if evacuations are not complete by then.