The video of Staff Sgt. Rob Cesternino surprising his 9-year-old son Luca went viral on Monday.

“It’s been crazy. It’s been epic,” said Rob Cesternino and his wife Leah.

Rob Cesternino was deployed for 10 months with the Tennessee National Guard in Jordan and Syria. His wife helped plan the surprise that has touched hearts around the world.

“It absolutely exceeded my expectations,” said Leah Cesternino. “It sure did, and it was exactly wwhat I wanted for my son.”

Rob Cesternino showed up at Luca’s Taekwondo practice in Lebanon on Monday.

Luca was blindfolded and told he would be sparring three instructors and he would have to guess who he was sparring.

Rob Cesternino slipped in while Luca continued punching and kicking.

It wasn’t until Rob called Luca by his childhood nickname that he realized it was his dad, tore off his blindfold and jumped in his dad’s arms.

“When he said ‘Daddy’ and I heard the tone, I’m done. I’m gonna lose it, and then he hugged me and the eyes met, and Leah came over, and you’re like wow,” said Rob Cesternino.

The video of the surprise has been viewed millions of times online and shared by just about every major outlet, even celebrities including rapper Diddy and President Trump posted about it.

“Really? Wow. Like wow, I didn’t know our president would like my video,” said Luca. “It’s been awesome.”

Luca said the best part was having his dad back home.

“I prayed for my dad every day and night and he was well and healthy when I saw him,” said Luca. “We’re all back together again and we’ll stay together.”

The family said the newfound fame is out of their comfort zone, even though Rob Cesternino was a sitting councilman for Lebanon until November. He said he’s ready for this new attention to die down.

“This has been great. This has been amazing, but I’m excited for it to end to get back to my life,” said Rob Cesternino.

The Cesterninos said the support and hearing from friends has been incredible.

Copyright 2019 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


Kim St. Onge joined the News4 team as a reporter in January 2017.

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