PORTLAND, Ore. – For 5-year-old Danny Furrow-Kiebler, Afghanistan might as well have been a galaxy far, far away.
Danny’s father, who happens to be a big Star Wars fan, has spent the last year away from his family on a tour of duty with the Air Force in Afghanistan.
Col. Rob Kiebler returned home to Portland last week, although his son didn’t know about the homecoming in advance. Rob decided to dress up as a Jedi knight and surprise his son during the boy’s birthday party.
Danny was celebrating his birthday with family and friends at the Deschutes Brew Pub in Portland on July 18 when the cast of characters from Star Wars came in to say hello.
Rob, dressed in a hooded Jedi knight outfit, walked behind the other characters, removed his hood and saw his son for the first time in a year.
"When I pulled the hood back as part of the surprise he didn't really recognize me. I think he was a little overwhelmed with all the Star Wars characters" Rob said. "I took a minute and said 'hey, who am I?' Then it kind of caught him and he gave me a huge hug and he wouldn't let go. It was a pretty great feeling."
"I didn't recognize him at first. I thought it was just a Star Wars character and he was dressed in a costume," Danny told us. "But it wasn't a Star Wars character, he was my dada."
Family friend Katie Reardon and her husband captured the reunion on video that was posted to YouTube on Thursday.
The video then spread online. This story quickly became the most viewed on KATU.com and was linked from CNN.com a few hours after we first posted it.
"It's a little overwhelming to be honest with you. It's just nice to be home and see the family and take a few weeks off before we move on," Rob said. "It's really surprising how fast it just exploded."
Check out the video below. Special thanks to Reardon for sharing the video with us.