Sailor Learns His Wife Kept A Dark Secret From Him During Deployment

Though the global telecoms of today have made communication possible from nearly anywhere, there are still those — such as the men and women of our military — whose ability to interact with friends and loved ones is hampered by their duty. While this distance can often strengthen and solidify relationships, it can also destroy them.

When one U.S. Navy man suspected that his wife was hiding something big from him, she was able to use their lack of communication to her advantage. But the moment he returned home, this sailor received news that turned his world upside down.

Military men and women are often required to make the difficult sacrifice of being away from their families for months — or even years — at a time. But while being away from those you love is hard enough as it is, it becomes even harder when you discover you’re being lied to.

Coronado Common Sense

For Navy Seaman Chris Daugherty, his six-month deployment aboard the USS Carl Vinson proved more difficult than imagined when calls home to his wife Natasha left him feeling like there was something she wasn’t telling him. Given their history, this wasn’t an unfounded fear for Chris…

After his second overseas deployment in 2009, Chris returned home to San Diego, California, thrilled to finally spend some quality time with Natasha and their young son. What he found instead was every military man’s nightmare.

The entire house was empty, with no sign of his wife or child anywhere. As he’d soon find out, Natasha apparently had enough of waiting around on her own for her husband.

After living and raising a child alone for an entire year, Natasha decided to move back to their hometown of Oswego, Illinois. Though Chris managed to convince Natasha to return to California, things were never quite the same.

Chris Daugherty / Facebook

Over the next few years, the couple welcomed two more children, yet all the long overseas tours and the trust issues that had developed put a serious strain on their marriage. A child of divorce himself, Chris was willing to do whatever it took to spare his own children the same fate.

But after a few months on tour, Chris received a message from one of his buddies back home about Natasha. Apparently, something seemed “off” about his wife, and she was becoming noticeably more reclusive around the neighborhood.

What’s worse, Natasha had even begun to sell off some of Chris’ personal belongings. Try as he might to justify his wife’s strange behavior, Chris couldn’t shake the feeling that Natasha was keeping something from him.

Mark Turnauckas /Flickr

As it turns out, she was. Natasha was keeping a huge secret from her husband, one she was dying to tell him. The guilt was eating her alive.

Natasha had considered emailing Chris dozens of times to break the news, but words on a computer screen wouldn’t do justice to a secret this big. To make matters even worse for Natasha, Chris’ life was now in more danger than ever before.

As a show of force, the USS Carl Vinson was ordered to the waters just off the coast of North Korea, extending Chris’ deployment for another month. This made keeping her secret nearly impossible for Natasha.


Natasha knew that she would be devastated if something happened to Chris before he learned the truth, and she debated telling him over the phone. In the end, Natasha decided to wait until Chris came ashore to finally come clean.

Chris Daugherty / Facebook

On the day of Chris’ homecoming, Natasha gathered their three children and headed down to the docks. Nervous as she was, it was finally time for her secret to be revealed.

Natasha Daugherty / Facebook

As Chris ran to meet his children, he noticed that his wife was holding a strange sign, which read: “Welcome Home Baby Daddy.” Chris was puzzled.

Questions swirled in Chris’ head as he approached Natasha, but before he could ask she removed the sign and tossed it aside. Chris was stunned at the sight: Natasha had a baby bump!

Natasha Daugherty / Facebook

At first, Chris thought it was a prank, and even went as far as to ask his wife if it was real. Sure enough, it was, and Chris took Natasha into his arms to celebrate his wife’s pregnancy of their fourth child.

As it turns out, Natasha learned that she was pregnant just days after Chris was deployed. From that moment on, she was determined to keep the pregnancy a secret from him until he returned home.

Natasha Daugherty / Facebook

In order to pull off her ruse, Natasha stayed out of the public eye for most of her pregnancy and even went as far as covering her stomach when sending Chris pictures of her and the kids. No wonder everyone thought she was acting so strange!

Natasha Daugherty / Facebook

Though the couple didn’t have plans for a fourth child, they both secretly had hoped that Natasha would eventually become pregnant again. The look on Chris’ face clearly shows how happy he was to see that their secret hope had become a reality.

Natasha Daugherty / Facebook

Thankfully, Chris won’t be deployed again for several months, allowing him to be home for the birth of their child. And for those wondering at home: it’s a girl!

For the entire Daugherty clan, Chris’s dramatic surprise would be a memory they’d treasure forever. However, it’s one thing for a family to keep a secret from a loved one while overseas. What happens when it’s the Service member who keeps their family in the dark?

For 9-year-old Luca Cesternino, there was no bigger hero in the world than his dad Rob. When Luca was little, the two of them were practically inseparable, and Rob would do anything for his kids.

Rob also served as a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army. Aside from his fatherly duties, nothing made him prouder than the chance to serve his country over the years. And in May of 2018, Rob got some big news.


Later that month, the Army was deploying him to a tour in Syria and Lebanon. Of course, he didn’t protest this decision, but he realized the impact it would have on his family. Rob could only hope he’d return home soon — and safely.

So, the Cesternino family bid their father a tearful farewell. Rob’s longtime wife Leah knew the rigors and demands of the military life. She could handle it, but she harbored some doubts about how her kids would cope.

As the youngest member of the family, Luca took his dad’s absence particularly hard. Leah tried to keep him occupied with fun activities like martial arts and football, but he still seemed down so much of the time.

Rob too struggled being overseas, and his homesickness grew as the months passed by. Still, he remained strong. In the end, he knew that he was making his home and country a better place. However, he wondered if he could do anything special for his family.

Ultimate Air Force Basic Training

In early 2019, Leah got an update from her husband, and he sounded far more excited than usual. Rob said he had some important news to share, but only on the condition that Leah didn’t tell their kids.

Facebook / Rob Cesternino

Leah agreed and tucked away the precious information that Rob relayed to her. His secret scheme involved one of Luca’s taekwondo practices that March. It began just like any other session…

Things took a turn, however, when Luca’s instructor announced he would blindfold his student for a demonstration. This was a class full of nine-year-olds — why was the teacher pulling some trick out of a kung fu movie?

Fist of Legend

Once Luca’s eyes were covered, however, his instructor stepped back. A newcomer entered the ring in his place, and Luca took a few hard swings at his pads. Then the stranger interrupted the demonstration with an unexpected question.


“Come on,” he said. “Is that all you got?” Luca swore he recognized that voice, but it all seemed too good to be true. The boy ripped off his blindfold and almost couldn’t believe his eyes.


His dad was back! Rob and Luca shared a warm embrace, and the entire room broke out in applause. Collectively, the world let out one great big aww.

In the middle of their tear-filled hug, Rob promised his son that he was home to stay and that he was so incredibly proud that Luca held up for the nine months he was gone.

NBC News

There’s no doubt that this surprise reunion was the highlight of young Luca’s life. Trying to process his whirlwind of emotions, he explained, “I feel joy in my heart. I’m never gonna leave his side.” But some reunions aren’t always so happy.

Facebook / Leah Cesternino

See, Army medic Luis Ocampo lived in Charlotte, North Carolina, with his girlfriend Kailey Finch and their son Lucian. Luis served in the North Carolina National Guard, and in September 2018, duty called him into action.

Kailey Finch / Facebook

Hurricane Florence, a Category 1 storm, smacked the coast with heavy winds and torrential rain, flooding cities and destroying homes. The Guard deployed Luis to the riverfront city of New Bern, which the storm hit particularly hard.

Anella Jane / MNN

While Luis and his local soldiers navigated the storm’s aftermath, helping anyone who needed water, food, or what have you, 20-year-old Kailey and Lucian headed for a place they would feel safer without Luis around.

The National Guard

Specifically, she took her soon to Luis’s parents’ house so she wouldn’t be alone for days. She left the family dog at home, where she checked in on him periodically. For a few days, the family lived like this — away from home and apart.

Kailey Finch / Facebook

On September 21, Luis returned home from his brief stint in New Bern. After helping people piece their lives back together, he expected at least a few hours for himself. But once at home, he did not receive a hero’s welcome.

Luis Ocampo / Facebook

With Kailey still at his parents’ house, Luis arrived at home only to be greeted by a curious sight: the dog — who’d been home all by himself — was running around in the front yard.


Even more curious was that the back door had been left wide open. Either the dog taught himself a new trick and opened the door himself, or someone who should not have opened that back door. Gulp.

Most telling of all, however, was that the window in his son’s bedroom was propped open: someone busted the lock with a nearby shovel and crawled into the home! They weren’t still inside, were they?

Luis Ocampo / Facebook

Luis entered his house through the wide-open back door and looked around. There was, thankfully, no one still inside the home. But that was just about the only positive the soldier could take away from what he saw.

Luis Ocampo / Facebook

The intruder flung clothes everywhere. They stole a laptop Luis kept all of his school work on; they stole a video game system, a firearm, and even swiped food from the refrigerator! And they didn’t stop there.

Kailey Finch / Facebook

The thieves took a box of coins Luis’s grandmother collected from around the world — something immensely sentimental to the 24-year-old. After surveying the damage, all he could do was stick his face in his hands.

Kailey Finch / Facebook

This was how Kailey found her soldier when she returned home. Wanting to do something to help, she turned to Facebook and wrote a status that she didn’t know would eventually change their lives.

Luis Ocampo / Facebook

“This soldier, my soldier,” Kailey wrote, “lost everything of importance…We are trying to get the word out and see if anyone has any information about who may have taken it. Please share and see what we can find out!”

Luis Ocampo / Facebook

A friend of Kailey’s, Mary Elise Capron, saw the post and felt an overwhelming sense of grief for the couple she loved dearly. She’d worked closely with Luis over the years and knew him as “an amazing soldier and person.”

Mary Elise Capron / Facebook

Mary wanted to help, so she set up a GoFundMe. “I am honored to know [Luis],” she wrote, “and cannot believe something so terrible could happen to someone so dedicated to the service, his family, and school.”

Luis Ocampo / Facebook

Mary set a fundraising goal of $5,000. That, she figured, would be plenty to replace the laptop and firearm, and to repair the broken bedroom window. Eventually, donations flooded in…and they wouldn’t stop!

In 11 days, the GoFundMe raised thousands for the couple, who eventually asked Mary to shut down the fundraiser! They were making too much money, they argued, and didn’t “want to abuse people’s generosity.”

But the public actually asked Mary to re-open the fundraiser after she shut it down at the couple’s behest: they wanted to help out this woebegone soldier! This made Luis uncomfortable, so he and Mary worked out another plan.

Mary Elise Capron; Kailey Finch

Delighted with the public’s enthusiasm to help a soldier in need, Luis, Kailey, and Mary redirected new donations to Soldiers and Airmen Assistance Fund, which helps local Guardsmen facing hardships.

North Carolina National Guard / Flickr

The couple even gave some of the donation money — which totaled nearly $15,000! — to a soldier who’d been living in a hotel after a Hurricane Florence brought a tree down on his home. Luis and Kailey turned a disaster into a positive moment.

“A big part of wanting to give the donations comes from seeing how generous people have been,” Luis said. “And I wanted to pay that back to someone else who needed help.”

Kailey Finch / Facebook

Over a million people were forced to evacuate in preparation for Florence, but of those displaced by the storm, Ashleigh Gilleland and her fiancé David Greer — along with Luis — found their journey away from home to be especially difficult.

Ashleigh Gilleland / Facebook

Residents of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Ashleigh and David were on the fence about abandoning their apartment in favor of staying with family in Sarasota, Florida. But with Ashleigh soon expecting the couple’s first child, they were unwilling to risk the safety of their budding family.

Mattias / Flickr

The storm was fast approaching their coastal hometown, leaving them little time to prepare for evacution. Taking only the essentials and a few pairs of clean clothes, the couple hastily sealed up their apartment and hit the road.

Myrtle Beach Online

The traffic was bumper-to-bumper as Ashleigh and David made the grueling 10-hour, 600-mile trip from Myrtle Beach to Sarasota. As soon as they arrived, Florence made landfall just two hours north of their apartment.


Questions swirled in the couple’s head as every news channel ran around-the-clock coverage of the storm’s destructive path. What would become of their apartment? Where would they go from here? As Florence only seemed to grow in intensity, things looked bleak for Ashleigh and David.


In an attempt to take their minds off the storm, Ashleigh and David turned off the TV and grabbed a bite to eat. The couple decided on Sarasota’s own Wings N Weenies: after all, who could be sad while eating chicken wings?

With their stomachs full and hearts a little lighter, the pair exited the restaurant and headed back to their car. But their relief was short-lived, as a large note stuck to the car’s windshield made their stomachs sink once again.

Spirit 105.3

Naturally, Ashleigh assumed the note was about her park job. Sure, she wasn’t the greatest at parking, but there were definitely much worse parkers out there. But as Ashleigh read the note, her eyes immediately filled with tears.

“[I] saw your license plate is from South Carolina,” the note read. “[I’m] not sure if you evacuated from the storm, but just know Florida is praying for you and your state. When we had [Hurricane] Irma, we evacuated to Alabama and received a similar letter on our car, because [of] our Florida license plate.”

Ashleigh Gilleland / Facebook

“So I wanted to pass it on… we understand how it feels to evacuate,” the note concluded. As they finished reading, the couple realized that the kind stranger had also left cash and a Walmart gift card!

Ashleigh Gilleland / Facebook

Never had the couple experienced such kindness from a stranger before, and they knew they couldn’t let this good deed go unnoticed. Rushing home, Ashleigh took to Facebook to share the amazing discovery with her friends.

Ashleigh Gilleland / Facebook

“This just made my day,” Ashleigh wrote. “I’m so happy to know there are still great people in the world.” But as news of Ashleigh’s good fortune spread throughout her friend group, she never expected how far the post would reach.

Ashleigh Gilleland / Facebook

After only a few days, Ashleigh’s post went viral, accumulating 9,000 likes and over 10,000 shares. The thrill of Ashleigh’s sudden fame helped relieve some of her worry over the state of affairs back home, but it was an unexpected message from a fellow Facebook user that really took the experience to a whole new level.

Huffington Post

Chelsey Tokan, an elementary school teacher from Fort Worth, Florida, reached out to Ashleigh to let her know that she was the one that wrote the note. Contacting her directly, Chelsey wanted to reiterate why she had acted so kindly in the first place.

Chelsey Tokan / Facebook

“The thing that got me through [Hurricane Irma] was the kindness of everyone in and out of my state,” Chelsey explained in her messages with Ashleigh. “Just knowing people really do care makes some things so devastating feel so small! A simple act of kindness can really turn someone’s day around.”


Chelsey’s words sparked a conversation between the two women, and Ashleigh took the opportunity to thank her personally for the note and gift. “I wish I could’ve met you, and I wish I could have returned the favor,” the 21-year-old wrote. “Just know, I will be paying it forward and will be keeping this chain going!”

Ashleigh Gillelan / Chelsey Tokan / Facebook

Ashleigh soon shared their conversation online. This time, however, Ashleigh began attracting attention from news media outlets, with even Fox News reaching out about her story.

“I was overwhelmed and automatically [started] thinking about how I could pay it forward for someone else,” Ashleigh told Fox News. “The smallest gestures can make the biggest impacts on people’s lives.”

Ashleigh Gillelan / Facebook

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