Dozens of family members and friends greeted the men and welcomed them back home from overseas. Some of the Marines even met new members of their families for the very first time.
With a crowd anxiously waiting inside, buses rolled up to the Joliet Park District Gym. Then the moment they all waited for: In the troops came, to big hugs and even bigger kisses.
Even though Sgt. Dillion Marshall is the one finally coming home, the attention is all on one little guy - his son.
"This is my son I'm meeting for the first time, Gunnar," said Marshall.
Gunnar was born just a few months ago, and dad could not wait to hold him.
This Marine unit has been working with the people of Afghanistan and building their trust - a mission that they say was a great success.
"This was a combination of some of our best marines we had in the battalion that were eligible to go, and wanted to go, and volunteered to go," said Dion Anglin, executive officer.
These men are happy to be back, and so are their parents.
"Mighty proud of these guys, and to have them all back is really good," said Craig McNulty, father of a Marine.
Platoon commander Captain Tim McNulty joins his family and new niece just in time for the holiday season.
"It hasn't really sunk in yet that I'm meeting everyone right now," said McNulty.
That overwhelming feeling of happiness is exactly what Operation Welcome You Home helps make happen.
"To be here with all of the families, to welcome them home for Christmas and they came home safe, I mean, it's really, really, emotional for us," said Donna Morsovillo of Operation Welcome You Home.
It was emotional for everyone.
"She was asking for her dad to come home for Christmas, and I wasn't sure it was going to happen, so it's really perfect," said Francesca Bambulas.
The Marines in that unit, Echo Company, are primarily from Joliet. They were gone for seven months on their mission in Afghanistan. For many, it was not their first deployment overseas.
The U.S. plans to withdraw most of its 98,000 combat troops from Afghanistan by 2014.