"From being in Iraq to being here, it's just the complete difference. I'm in the combat zone not too long ago. Now I'm home to a hero's welcome. It feels like a dream," Holley said.
The surprise welcome was the brainchild of Holley's mother, Christine Holley Davis.
"People just needed to help him understand the job he had was a very important one and how much he is appreciated," Davis said.
"I am so proud. I am so happy that the area of Country Club came out to celebrate this young man coming home," said south suburban resident Shirley Dukes-Robinson.
The family, friends and the south suburban community where Holley grew up all celebrated the return of the Rich Central High School alum. The homecoming included a performance by his high school alma mater's marching band and an escort by the Soldiers Guardian Angels.
"It's a great thing for so many of these veterans that never received a welcome home," said Tom Tallman, Soldiers Guardian Angels.
The 28-year-old Country Club Hills resident is back state-side after flying in Iraq as an Apache Pilot for the U. S. Army with an aviation unit known as the Flying Tigers.
Holley's son Julian and daughter Kayla said they missed seeing their father's face and hearing their father's voice the most; but their dad got home just in time to witness the October 1 arrival of his second daughter Zaria.
"It's great that he got to come home to see the birth of our daughter and our two children. So it's just wonderful to have him home," said Holley's wife Shoshawna.
Amid the joy, many remembered those still fighting the war on terror, even as President Barack Obama announced Friday that all U.S. troops serving in Iraq could be home for the holidays.
Navy vet Augustus Wright says that's good news for Holley's older brother Christopher, a contractor with U.S. Army in Iraq.
"I think it's fantastic if we can get them home," Wright said.
"You ready for us to come home? Roger that," Holley said. "We're ready to come back also."
The next few weeks will be busy for Holley. After spending time with family and friends, he'll be back on the move. He will probably commute several times a month to Alabama to get his required hours as a pilot as well as continue to give back by training others to fly combat helicopters.