Family, friends welcome local marine home

BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT)-- Family and friends of a local marine welcomed him home Tuesday evening.

After four years of service and two deployments overseas, Lance Corporal Andrew Payne is in East Tennessee to stay.

"It's just amazing to get this kind of reception from everybody. Just honored and really blessed to be living in East Tennessee again," Lance Corporal Payne said.

He was also greeted by members of Rolling Thunder who held tall American flags.

They were there to support the moment Payne's family has been waiting for.

"We've been looking forward to it a long time," said Greg Payne who couldn't be prouder of his son.

"I don't have the words to tell you how I feel. It's special," Lance Corporal's mom Susan Payne said.

There were lots of hugs, kisses and much appreciation for the marine.

"He's really our hometown hero. He's done so much for our country, for our freedom," his cousin Katie Payne said. "We're just ready to spend some time with him.

His family is now complete, and his girlfriend Carrie Sexton told Local 8 News she's excited to be in the same time zone and be able to go out on dates.

Lance Corporal Andrew Payne said he's glad to be home but has brought with him memories he'll forever cherish.

"Definitely the brotherhood I gained...the people I served with the past four years. Something I'll never forget," he said.

Andrew said he plans to go to college in January.

He served in the 3rd Battalion 5th Marines Weapons Company.

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