Cheri Hancock had not seen her son in the nearly five years since he'd enlisted in the Army. So she received the surprise of a lifetime when she came home to him standing in her kitchen.
"Hi, Mom!" Kyle Kracht called out, prompting a glass-shattering shriek of joy from his unsuspecting mother.
Videos of the reunion have since gone viral on social media, racking up tens of thousands of views on YouTube.
Kracht called his mom's reaction "unreal."
"It’s way beyond anything I could’ve imagined her doing,” the 28-year-old told TODAY. “I played it in my head a few times what she might do — cry, laugh — but I never thought it was going to be screaming bloody murder."
Kracht is a cavalry scout stationed in El Paso, Texas. Financially, it’s hard for him to visit home, he told TODAY.
But with a little help from his grandparents, he flew home to West Jordan, Utah, on June 24, a weekend when other soldiers in his unit were headed on vacation.
His grandparents had accumulated frequent flier miles, and they jumped at the idea of having him surprise his mother.
Hancock thought her day was going to be just like any other — she went to work, church and then drove home.
Little did she know, her husband, Dale, was in on the surprise and had already picked up Kyle from the airport.
"I kind of felt like she was scared that I was there," Kracht joked. "And then she said what are you doing here? But it was awesome."
Kracht and Hancock had been using texts, calls, voicemails and Skype to communicate, but nothing compared to seeing each other in person.
“Skype’s good, but you can’t hug somebody on Skype,” he told TODAY. “You can only put your emotions into words on text messages with emojis, but emojis just don’t do it.”
The pair squeezed in as much as they could while Kyle was home — they stopped by his childhood home and visited his sisters, among other activities.
The trip was important for another reason; Kracht’s transferring to Georgia soon, and he doesn’t know when he’ll be able to come home next.
“It was awesome to just give her the amount of love I wanted to in a hug," he said.