JACKSONVILLE, ONSLOW COUNTY - Carol Koch hugged her Marine son as he returned to Camp Lejeune on Friday, after a long deployment in Afghanistan.
"You did a good job," Koch told her son. "I know you did what you were supposed to do, and I'm just very proud of you and everyone else who gets off that bus."
About 60 Marines from Camp Lejeune's 2nd Combat Engineering Battalion arrived at Camp Lejeune Friday morning. They had been serving in Afghanistan for seven months.
Several of their families had been through deployments before. But many said it's still hard to get used to life without their loved ones home.
Lisa Van Dyke said that feeling of seeing her husband again made the time away worthwhile.
"Nervousness, excitement, butterflies all over again. We've been married for 26 years and we still feel that newness," Van Dyke said.
Her husband, Lt. John Van Dyke, agreed.
"Being able to stay in touch is fantastic, with email, Skype and all of that. But it doesn't make up for this," Lt. Van Dyke told NewsChannel 12.
Lt. Col. John Osborne, who led the Marines in Afghanistan, said the campaign was a success.
"It was a very diverse mission, changing constantly over there, and to bring a team together across all of Helmand Province and do the things we did is absolutely amazing," Lt. Col. Osborne said.
"It's difficult, but you know, that they're there for a purpose," Koch said. "It's what they're meant to do."
The Marines' mission now is to spend time with their families.
About 100 more Marines with the unit are scheduled to return home on Saturday.