Homecomings are underway in Beaufort, as a handful of Marines returned from the Middle East today. They landed at the Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport. There wasn't a dry eye at the airport today as family and friends welcomed the first wave of home.
"I was really surprised," said Maj. Mike Stegelman. "I didn't expect that kind of a welcome."
But that warm welcome almost didn't happen after many of the Hawks from the Air Station's Marine All Weather Fighter Attack 533 missed their connecting flight, leaving their families waiting a wee bit longer.
"I would wait till tomorrow if I have to," said a waiting Denise Kincaid.
Lt. Doug Campbell was the first Hawk to step foot at home, greeting his son, wife, and their baby on the way. It was a moment he didn't dream would come so soon.
"Now I'll be home for all the big events, the doctors appointments, the sonograms, I'm excited," he said.
"It feels very great and I'm glad he's alive," added Campbell's son.
Now that he's home, he's looking forward to enjoying the finer things in life, like "ice-cold soda, sleeping on a mattress, and air conditioning."
Hours later, the rest of the Hawks advance party arrived home, bringing smiles and tears.