Army Staff Sgt. Steven Mendez’s wife and sons were attending a meet-and-greet with country singer Dierks Bentley before an April 29 show in Fresno, California, when the brush with celebrity turned into an emotional family reunion.
As Bentley spoke with the boys, their father came out from behind a curtain, hugging the boys and his wife while members backstage cheered and clapped.
The video had nearly 300,000 Facebook views as of Friday afternoon. Mendez had been overseas for 10 months,
“It has profoundly changed my life seeing what happened backstage,” Bentley told fans during the show, according to
Wide Open Country. “I want to thank you so much for your service.”
Bentley then surprised the family with an on-stage invite. The crowd responded with a "USA" chant.
Bentley's the son of a World War II Army veteran. He reflected on his father's service, and his respect for the military, in a 2012 interview with Taste of Country.
“What a feeling that must be that I will never know, to put on that uniform, American flag patch on your shoulder, and you’re out there literally fighting for the flag, fighting with your brothers next to you and for everyone back home,” Bentley told
Taste of Country. “We can never really honestly have a sense of how that feels, but certainly we can honor them.”