MILWAUKEE — A Wisconsin soldier returned home after serving halfway around the world, surprising his family with an emotional reunion.
Wilson Rodriguez Jr. spent the last nine months serving as a soldier in Kuwait.
"We were working at a military hospital taking care of patients that needed to come in on base," Rodriguez said.
His family knew he'd be home soon, but exactly when was unclear.
On May 25, Rodriguez's family watched a video message from the 25-year-old old at FUEL Fitness in Oak Creek. With them was a group of dozens who had just finished a 22-mile walk for veterans. They powered through the elements raising awareness for veterans dying by suicide every day across the country.
The recording from Rodriguez was supposed to be the end of the event, but as soon as it finished playing, Rodriguez surprised his family, hugging his father first.
Then, his mother.
"I would say only one other time in my life I saw my dad cry. He was definitely crying," Rodriguez said.
"I jumped right on him because it was like my life is back. I have him. It's so nice to see him safe to have in the U.S.A.," Celis Rodriguez said.
Andru Krol from FUEL Fitness helped plan the surprise.
"It's just something we wanted to do and show our appreciation for somebody who served," Krol said.
Rodriguez was overjoyed to surprise his family, and is glad to be home and spending time with them.
"You don't get this moment too many times. It's kind of special," Rodriguez said. "It's very unique so I said why not just go for it?"