STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Oregon National Guard soldier arranges surprise homecoming

Article Image

Click here for updates...

Posted: Jul 14, 2020 12:30 PM

Click here for updates on this story

    BEND, OR ( KTVZ ) -- An Oregon Army National Guard soldier from Bend said that after watching so many videos on social media of soldiers coming home to happily surprise their families, he wanted to do the same thing -- and he did, surprising his mom for a happy homecoming over the weekend.

Specialist Wesley Darling enlisted in the Guard in March 2017 and was deployed last September. That was the last time his mother, Kimberly Darling, saw him in person.

“It was a goodbye, and in the days we're living in, I didn't know if I'd see him again or not," she recalled Monday.

Darling said he flew to Eugene from Texas on July 4 to visit his girlfriend, Leeondra Nealon, and their 1 1/2-year-old daughter, Leeona. He then drove down to Bend to surprise his family on Sunday.

With the help of his younger brother, Travis, who was visiting Bend from Corvallis, he was able to pull off the surprise homecoming.

“The last week before we flew back, I texted both my parents on WhatsApp, 'Hey, just FYI, I probably won’t have WiFi for about a week, we’ll be doing training exercises,' that sort of thing," Wesley Darling said.

Travis said his mom was aware he was visiting from Corvallis, but had no idea Wesley was also going to be in town.

He said his mom wanted to take pictures outdoors when his brother texted him, letting him know he was nearby.

"I already know he’s coming, so I'm keeping watch, and I look behind -- and there’s a guy in Army uniform walking," Travis said. "So I start laughing, and my mom thinks I'm laughing at her. That's when I started recording."

In a video captured by Travis, Kimberly screamed at the sight of Wesley running toward her and embracing her.

"I had sent him some care packages, and texted him and FaceTimed," Kimberly said. "Seeing that he looked good was the most relieving part of FaceTime. It was like, 'Okay, I'm seeing him and he's okay.'"

She described her feeling of seeing Wesley in person on Sunday as being in a state of shock.

"I was like, 'I can't believe I'm seeing you!' Because I didn't know it would happen again," Kimberly said. "I was pleasantly surprised -- and so glad to be wrong."

Kimberly Darling was also in the Army and worked as a public affairs officer for the Navy. She said she had witnessed so many military homecomings, but never thought she would experience one herself.

"Ironically, whenever I watched those homecoming videos, I always cried and thought, 'That will never happen to me,'" Kimberly said.

Darling attended Sky View Middle School and Mountain View High School. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

Darling is a specialist E-4 with the 2-162 Infantry Battalion, based in Springfield. He will return to Eugene on Tuesday.

"I definitely felt the support from family and friends while I was gone," Darling said. "It was definitely a challenging year. We worked hard. And it’s great to be home.”

Please note: This content carries a strict local market embargo. If you share the same market as the contributor of this article, you may not use it on any platform.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 309841

Reported Deaths: 3569
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah50840642
Washington34683272
Marion32181388
Clackamas26315270
Lane23632246
Jackson20753255
Deschutes16401100
Umatilla12552125
Douglas10599185
Linn1030285
Josephine8536163
Yamhill737299
Klamath637891
Polk617770
Malheur475867
Benton454027
Coos406469
Columbia320237
Jefferson310446
Lincoln272829
Union266036
Wasco236739
Crook212137
Clatsop210225
Tillamook179623
Baker171920
Morrow166621
Curry166317
Hood River161635
Harney77115
Grant7538
Lake6608
Wallowa50111
Gilliam1364
Sherman1283
Wheeler651
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4636268

Reported Deaths: 67966
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles144412725849
Riverside3575584802
San Diego3492274006
San Bernardino3468955501
Orange3135295354
Sacramento1498662070
Santa Clara1403871841
Fresno1356471889
Kern1343971515
Alameda1160681320
Ventura976231120
San Joaquin971621615
Contra Costa95595924
Stanislaus800341229
Tulare72812896
San Mateo52172607
San Francisco51808605
Monterey49445565
Solano44061312
Santa Barbara43065500
Sonoma39376376
Merced39279535
Placer36390364
Imperial34235755
Kings30038285
San Luis Obispo28273313
Madera21672258
Butte21205230
Shasta20647276
Santa Cruz20134211
Yolo19118239
Marin17080242
El Dorado15964127
Sutter13055153
Napa1224695
Yuba923461
Nevada845685
Humboldt826284
Tehama821184
San Benito708567
Mendocino681971
Lassen636827
Tuolumne612593
Lake601087
Amador489759
Glenn396430
Siskiyou388841
Calaveras339366
Del Norte334234
Colusa290718
Inyo166239
Mono14935
Plumas12336
Mariposa96712
Trinity71910
Modoc6278
Sierra1980
Unassigned1180
Alpine1000
Out of CA00
Medford
Clear
58° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 58°
Brookings
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 71°
Crater Lake
Clear
58° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 58°
Grants Pass
Partly Cloudy
58° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 58°
Klamath Falls
Clear
56° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 56°
Dry and mild Monday with good air quality
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events