BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — They are nearly 6,000 miles apart, but on one college student’s big day he not only received his diploma, but also a loving message from his military father.

As 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reported Friday, Pedro Cruz III was one of more than 1,500 New York University graduates who walked the stage at the Barclays Center to receive his engineering degree. He was also handed an iPad with a video message from his dad.

“(Well, what did your dad say?) Basically that he’s proud of me and that he loves me. I love him too,” he said.

Cruz’s father, Staff Sgt. Pedro Cruz Jr., is currently stationed in Kuwait.

“I didn’t expect this at all. I thought I was just going to go right back to my seat like everybody else. It was a wonderful surprise,” he said.

The 22-year-old from Staten Island admitted it was tough being separated from his father on his big day.

“Yea he wanted to be here, but you know we had to make the best of the situation, right,” he said.

Cruz said the video surprise really helped.

“It’s wonderful. He’s all the way overseas. It was great for him to be here with me,” Cruz said.

His message to his dad: “I love him and I salute him.”

The iPad and video link were courtesy of the United Service Organizations, Jones reported.

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