The Steen family of suburban Lockport was planning a big celebration for the soldier.
"You have no idea how long I've been waiting," said Doug Steen, father.
That wait is finally over. Steen's son arrived at Midway Airport after serving a year in Afghanistan.
"The commitment and dedication that these boys and girls put out is just admirable…you can't put it in words. It just touches your heart," said Steen who was moved to tears. "I'm so proud of him."
Army Specialist Joel Steen of Lockport is finally home. "It's great to be home. It didn't set in until the plane flew over Lockport. It's a little surreal," said Specialist Steen. "My little brother, he better be doing his homework. My mother, I miss her with all my heart. I can't wait to see my mom."
As he stuffed his bags in the trunk, the young soldier was clueless about a party his family has planned.
"He thinks there a few friends coming over to welcome him home. No idea what's going on. He's going to be speechless," said Steen. "I wish I could hug him and drive at the same time."
Specialist Steen had some wise words for the rest of us.
"Every time somebody comes up to a soldier and says thank you, it means a lot, just going out of your way to recognize us. We don't ask much, and that's enough for us," said Specialist Steen.