It is something military families know all too well — the anguish of saying goodbye to a loved one as he or she deploys overseas.
Even harder? Little kids saying goodbye. The youngest ones don’t comprehend where or why Mom or Dad is going. So the spouse at home is left to try and explain the value of national service to grasping little minds.
One police officer made that goodbye a lot easier for two little kids in San Diego last Thursday — by turning up the volume on their sweet goodbyes.
Rileigh Beutow, age 4, and her brother Austin, 2, were standing on the shore yelling goodbye across the water from Shelter Island as the USS Carl Vinson, carrying their dad, made its way out to sea.
Officer James Weaver of the San Diego Police Department told the local NBC affiliate, Channel 7, that he noticed the children from his patrol car, and thought of a way to help out.
“As I was sitting there, I saw the family over here and the two little kids were by the rocks over here screaming to dad yelling 'bye,'" he remembers. "I figured that he couldn’t hear them 'cause I could barely hear them from across the parking lot, so I just pulled my car over and asked if they wanted to use the PA,” he said.
A simple gesture, maybe. But to Rileigh and Austin’s mom Brettany Beutow, it meant a great deal.
“I did not expect it at all,” she told NBC 7. “It really meant a lot to our family and to the kids.”
Beutow posted two photos of the kids using the PA to say goodbye to their dad along with the comment, “Shout out to the San Diego Police Officer who pulled up next to us and asked if Rileigh and Austin wanted to tell their daddy they loved him as his ship went by, leaving for deployment. They got to speak into the microphone and say, ‘Bye, Daddy, we love you!!’ I am so grateful for ALL of the men and women in uniform who serve and protect our country!”
Within less than a week, the post had been shared almost 2,000 times and has been liked 2,600 times. Commenters were moved by the story, with one person posting, "That is so sweet! The officer showed so much kindness in doing this for this family! God Bless You!"
Another simply posted, "Now that made my day."
"I can attest that it's a genuinely good feeling when you learn that a small act that you think nothing of at the time turns out to have such a meaningful impact," New York City police officer Paul Grattan told LifeZette. "I imagine that Officer Weaver simply wanted to put a smile on the children's faces, not realizing the bigger picture - that they were able to say farewell to their father one more time before his deployment."
“I was holding it together pretty well ... I just slowly broke down and started crying.”
Officer Weaver, who also has little kids at home, was surprised by the response to his act of kindness.
“As blown up as it’s getting and going viral and everything, I never expected that,” Weaver said.
“I just thought I’d come over and try and let a couple of kids say bye to their dad. All of a sudden it made the news and we’re here doing interviews, so it’s definitely a memorable moment.”
“I was holding it together pretty well until he asked them if they wanted to do that and I just slowly broke down and started crying," the kids' mom told NBC 7.
"Officer Weaver served his community well that day, as he brought some comfort and joy to Rileigh and Austin on an otherwise heartbreaking day," noted Grattan.
Brettany Beutow, who also has a three-month old son at home, said she hopes her husband, Josh, will be home by summer.
Josh Beutow has served in the U.S. Navy for six years.