Father surprises son after nearly yearlong deployment


For about 24 hours among his arrival domestic Sunday, and while he surprised his youngest son, Tennessee Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Rob Cesternino was kept in seclusion. But it changed into well worth it. “Now I’m out of witness safety, and I’m allowed to be a human being again,” Cesternino stated. “I was now not allowed to name any of my friends. I turned into now not allowed to be seen in public. I was not allowed to move anywhere. I turned into no longer allowed to do whatever. I became like, wow. I need to go lower back to Syria, wherein I can get extra freedom.” Cesternino again Sunday from a ten-month deployment with the Tennessee Army National Guard’s 230thSustainment Brigade. The 25-soldier unit left May 20, went to Fort Hood, Texas, and then to Kuwait. During his deployment, he and five other soldiers hung out in Jordan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom Spartan Shield and southern Syria as a part of Operation Inherent Resolve. Cesternino’s very last secret challenge worried stealth, cunning, and a chunk of hand-to-hand combat, but it wasn’t overseas. Rather, Cesternino, his spouse, Leah, and several pals kept his return domestic quiet until he could surprise his nine-year-antique son, Luca, in the course of a taekwondo session Monday at Success Martial Arts Center in Lebanon.

While LucaCesternino becomes blindfolded and sparred with teachers, his dad snuck in and took over the workout. It didn’t take lengthy for Luca Cesternino to discover just how unique his sparring accomplice changed into him. “When he said, ‘Hey Shib.’ He always used to call me Shib after I became little. He wanted to nickname me, so he called me Shib,” Luca Cesternino said. Rob Cesternino said the nickname got here from when his son used to sing the Georgia Satellites’ “Hippy Hippy Shakes” as the “Shibby Shibby Shakes” whilst he became younger. The nickname caught and has become something unique among the father and son. And when Luca Cesternino took off his blindfold, he quickly hugged his father he hadn’t seen in nearly 10 months because the tears rolled. “I love you, and I’m so happy with you,” Rob Cesternino instructed his son. “You were any such large boy even as I changed into long past.” It turned into wonder because Luca Cesternino didn’t count on his dad to arrive till Friday, and there he becomes nearly a full week early. “I changed into like, wow,” Luca Cesternino said. “Everybody got here right here to look my dad and me. … It’s just exhilaration. I felt pleasure in my heart. … I will never go away his facet.” Jason Warren, an instructor at Success Martial Arts Center, offered Rob Cesternino an honorary black belt and gave Luca Cesternino a camouflage belt with his name and the word “braveness” embroidered on it.

Rob Cesternino become quick to present his credit score to his wife for the assist she supplied at some stage in his deployment. “We are each sitting here enjoying this, but the man or woman we both need to thank is his mother and my wife, Leah,” Rob Cesternino stated. “It starts offevolved and ends along with her. She makes us better. “If you are a husband or a wife of a carrier member, in case you are a child of a service member, they deserve greater applause than we get, due to the fact they have a tougher row to hoe. And Wilson County, the metropolis of Lebanon, we’ve by no means lived in a network which takes better care of their very own, ever. And they took care of folks whilst we had been long gone. “It’s difficult. We don’t deliver sufficient concept to how tough it’s miles on the circle of relatives we go away at the back of.” Before the reunion, Rob Cesternino pondered whether or not he’d cry while he noticed his son as he waited outdoor at the lower back of the taekwondo studio.

“I’m probable going to take my cue from him,” Rob Cesternino stated. “If I see that he’s going to lose it, you can stick a fork in me because I’m going to be achieved. He’ll carry dad over the ledge with him. But if he’s robust, I think I’ll be strong.” He additionally predicted his son could be disenchanted with him for dodging his maximum latest calls. But it was all a part of the secret undertaking. “He’s in all likelihood going to be agitated, due to the fact the ultimate couple of times he’s tried to Facetime me, I haven’t taken his calls, due to the fact I’ve been with Leah. So it’s probably been about every week,” Rob Cesternino stated. “I spoke to Luca every couple of weeks. I imply he’s 9. ‘Hey dad, I’m out.’ A couple of things – ‘hello dad, how are you doing? I pass over you; I’m out.’

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Leah continues him so lively in the entirety around here. He’s simply large in karate. We performed basketball within the town league and did some gymnastics. She’s huge within the Salvation Army, the after-faculty application they have over on Lake Street, so he is going over there lots and does a lot after college over there. She’s kept him very engaged.” Luca Cesternino is the youngest of six kids. Zachary Cesternino, the oldest, served in the Coast Guard. Colin and Kaitlin Cesternino are the subsequent oldest. Michael Cesternino, who died in 2015, served in the Navy. And Elizabeth Cesternino’s enlistment in the Air Force will result in May. She plans to finish her diploma at the University of Tennessee. She’s currently a digital imaging ultrasound specialist at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. “We are a navy own family,” Rob Cesternino stated.

“My family served in every single era all of the ways back to World War I. It becomes expected in my circle of relatives. I tell humans that the military is a family enterprise. I have a son who became within the Coast Guard; I have a son inside the Navy; my daughter became within the Air Force. It’s just expected that you put on the uniform of your united states. You don’t have to make it a career.” In addition to his service, Rob Cesternino owned a private security business in Nashville and completed his 2d time period on the Lebanon City Council in November. Rob Cesternino entered army energetic obligation in January 1985 and endured till 1995. During that point, he had a couple of overseas and stateside assignments, along with a stint as a United Nations’ peacekeeper during the Balkans War inside the former Republic of Yugoslavia. Following lively responsibility, the National Guard has become a part of his civilian lifestyle. Since 1995, he served within the Georgia Army National Guard and Georgia Air Guard and the Washington Army National Guard. In 2014, Cesternino became a member of the Tennessee Army National Guard’s 230th Sustainment Brigade.

In addition to his son’s reunion, network members embellished Lebanon Square and different regions inside the metropolis with yellow ribbons and unique messages on marquees to welcome him home. “The purpose of this assignment is to paint the metropolis yellow,” said Leah Cesternino. “We have had a awesome amount of aid from the network, volunteering their time, marquees, and putting yellow bows at their houses and places of business.  We could not feel extra supported. Operation Yellow Ribbon is part of the welcome home experience we titled Operation Welcome Home. The yellow bows, not simplest welcome Rob home; they also represent all veterans.” The Cesterninos’ buddies and own family offered the bows and painted Lebanon yellow to assist enhance attention. The Facebook organization @OPYellowRibbon was created to keep ca circle of relatives members up to date. All proceeds from Operation Welcome Home will benefit Our Military Kids, an employer that empowers children with sports activities, arts, and enrichment through mother and father’s deployment or recuperation.

Visit ourmilitarykids.Com for more data. The American Legion Post 281 will play host to the Welcome Home Veterans occasion on March 30 at the Mill in Lebanon. Rob Cesternino can be honored at midday throughout the occasion. Rob Cesternino stated he missed the ordinary greater than something. “That each day ordinary was, by way of ways, what I missed the maximum,” he said. “We’re getting up and going to high school the next day morning.” On Tuesday, he and his spouse deliberate to eat lunch at Town Square Social, a eating place that opened on Lebanon Square while he changed into deployed. He stated Leah Cesternino wasn’t allowed to devour there both, so they might both pass for the first time whilst he back domestic.