As dozens of motorcycles roared by, the crowd of hundreds eagerly waited -- anticipating the end of the motorcade. Three buses filled with about 120-Marines. And one by one they exited to the sound of cheers. Lansing based Charlie Company, First Battalion, 24th Regiment. Into the gym at Pattengill Middle School they walked. Right into the arms of those who missed them so.
"I've just been waiting for this day for a long time. I couldn't be more happy," says Lance Corporal Brad Carlostrom.
For soldiers like Lance Corporal Daniel Brown, new introductions were in order -- as he met his son, Michael, for the first time -- having been born during his father's seven month tour in Iraq.
"It was hard you know. But you get used to it. And you get more excited when get you get home to see them," says LCpl. Brown.
While the time spent overseas wasn't easy, he says, "You do what many generations have done before us, so other people around here don't have to do that sort of thing."
The sort of thing that can often be dangerous.
"[You're] just constantly worried about yourself and your fellow Marines, says Lance Corporal Nick Kroeze.
He was injured when his humvee was hit by an IED. He returned home to Michigan more than a month ago but joined in the homecoming with his fellow soldiers.
"We're thrilled that our son is home. But we grieve for families that have empty arms today," says mother Gloria Kroeze.
In all eight were killed in action. Heroes, not physically present, but not far from the hearts and minds of those who fought alongside them. Returning home to a heroes welcome.