It's been a long eight months but one by one, the buses rolled in Monday night as the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment returned home to Camp Pendleton.
Any Marine or sailor who has seen combat has stories to tell but few have seen action in recent years like the troops from Camp Pendleton's 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment.
They've experienced some of the most violent attacks from insurgents in Afghanistan. Dozens died in the line of duty.
All that was set aside for just a moment Monday night when families celebrated the safe return of more than 150 troops.
Some may say it was a homecoming that never felt so sweet.
"When they first got over there, they had a real tough time. They lost quite a few men," said Rashell Creighton, mother of Lance Corporal Michael Creighton.
"He's our hero and we can't wait to see him," she said.
The unit has gone through things most of us, can't even imagine.
In Afghanistan, their mission is to fight Taliban insurgents in Helmand Province.
The list of fallen heroes is long. Thirty members of the 3/5 have been killed in combat. That's the highest number from any other battalion in Afghanistan. Almost 200 others haven been injured.