SARASOTA, Fla. -- United States Army pilot Wesley Rinehart has been away from his wife and three sons while serving a tour of duty in Afghanistan for nine months. His boys attend Lakeview Elementary in Sarasota and got a bit of a surprise Monday.
“Daddy!” It was the eldest son Timothy who first noticed his dad in the room. 3rd grader John noticed his dad second, and as all chaos broke out, youngest son Kyle comes jumping on top of his dad.
Rinehart was overcome with emotion after finally getting to hug his children. "My fourth deployment now; you know I've never got to do this for the boys, and they're old enough now to appreciate it and you can't put it into words. You have three of these boys together like this and they're all in the same school. You can't put it into words how happy I'm coming home to this," said Wesley.
It was a long road to come back to visit his family. "I got back two days ago; we flew though Germany, came into Fort Riley, Kansas and stayed there a couple days until I was able to sign out on leave. Then came home last night and stayed at a hotel so I wouldn't spoil the surprise.”
It took Timothy and Michael just a few minutes to collect themselves, just to express how they felt.
"I'm so happy, I just want to cry," said John.
"I'm so happy, i just want to squeeze him so hard," said Timothy.
After surprising his three boys, Rinehart had another surprise up his sleeve.
"Chief Warrant Officer Rinehart surprised me with this beautiful flag, and the significance of it is that he hung it outside his helicopter as he was flying over Afghanistan, brought it all the way back, and gave it to Lakeview," said principal Joan Bower.