Master Sgt. Robert Allen won’t be coming home for Christmas this year. But for his family in Arizona -- and for anyone else with an Internet connection -- he’ll be just a click away.
Allen, a U.S. Marine, is stationed at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan, a world away from his wife and three children. So he recorded a holiday song he wrote especially for them and posted the video on YouTube.
Now his heartfelt serenade, “A Marine’s Christmas Song,” has gone viral, steadily gaining tens of thousands of views and providing comfort for other families whose loved ones are serving overseas.
“It’s not a great song. People love it, but I don’t understand how,” Allen, an Oklahoma native, said during a phone interview with FoxNews.com. “I suppose they like its message.”
He said he wrote the song on Christmas Eve four years ago after speaking with his wife, Carla, on the phone. He was serving in Iraq at the time.
“She said to me that she couldn’t hold me because I was 7,000 miles away,” said Allen, recalling how he came up with the lyrics to his song:
It’s Christmas time and I’m gone again.
I left you alone again
And I don’t have you in my arms to hold
because I’m 7,000 miles away from home.
He added lyrics about his children — sons Aaron and Aiden, and daughter Lainie, ages 18, 15, and 8 respectively — weaving in personal stories that they shared as a family. He recorded the song that night.
“There are a lot of happy moments in there,” Allen said of the lyrics.
He emailed the Christmas gift to his wife the next day, and “It made her cry the instant she heard it,” he said.
Allen played an acoustic guitar he received from his father-in-law as a Christmas present in 1998.
“I learned three chords at first. I didn’t know how to play any songs, so I just wrote my own,” he said.
This year, on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan, Allen played the song for his fellow Marines, and they asked him to post it on YouTube.
“Everyone wanted to send it to their wives,” Allen said. “I really wanted it up there, too, as another gift for my family.”
Allen says he’s surprised that “A Marine’s Christmas Song” has connected with so many others.
“I only thought 50 people or so would watch it,” he said. “I never thought it was that great of a song. I think people are watching it because they related to it in some way.”
Now his wife and children can see Allen as often as they want, even if it’s just a video.
“It’s like he is there in front of me. I still can’t touch him, but I can see him at least,” Allen’s wife said from their home in Yuma, Ariz.
“Part of me is jealous; I feel like it’s my song and not for anyone else,” Carla Allen said. “But I’m glad that people are inspired by it.”
Perry Chiaramonte is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @perrych