Knoxville (WVLT) -- They're few, they're proud and their families are loud. Even though they are also tired, these families are incredibly happy.
Volunteer TV's Whitney Daniel takes you to the post-midnight homecoming for 42 of East Tennessee's Delta Marines.
Banners waving, cars painted and faces smiling were a common sight early this morning in South Knox County.
"I don't know if I can put into words how I feel right now," said Brenda Fields of Oak Ridge, "I am so excited, I don't know if I've felt this way since the day he was born!"
Hundreds of flags led the way to family and friends all waiting for one thing, but as time passed throughout Saturday's early hours, and the anticipation built even more.
"I just cannot wait to see that bus turn into the reserve unit," said Holly Simmons of Halls.
And then the door opened, the crowd jumped with excitement, and the first Delta company Marine stepped off the bus.
"We saw the first bunch of people at the entrance of the unit and then we saw 400 people standing on the sidewalk," said LCpl Josh Fields, "it kind of surprised us at 2AM in the morning."
But no one seems to care about the time, all they cared about was that their loved ones had returned.
"It's unbelievable how they support us," said LCpl Barry Britton Jr.
"It's totally awesome," said Brenda Fields, "I'm shaking from the inside out!"
The scene was touching. Friends greeting friends, parents hugging sons, husbands kissing wives, and everyone looking forward to exciting times ahead.
"It's one of those feelings you can't describe," said LCpl Fields, "It feels great to be back, I'm glad to be back!"
And as they get their gear, some in the crowd may have had a sudden realization, this time they're packing up, to head home.
"There's just words to express how a mom feels when her son has been away, clear across the world, and is finally coming home and she can once again put her arms around him and know that he's home and he's safe," said Brenda Fields.
The Delta Company had been serving as Combat Engineers in the Al Anbar region where they specialized in disarming roadside bombs.
Its members will have about 180 days rest.