Looking at the crowd waiting at Tyler Pounds Regional Airport, you'd think there was a packed flight coming in Friday night. But the dozens of folks there were waiting for just one guy, a young U.S. Marine named Blake McGee.
"The plane could not fly fast enough," Sheena Gronberg, Blake's fiancee, said.
He would soon step off the plane, after nearly a year apart.
For Blake's mom, his arrival would mean she could sleep at night, at least for the next month.
"Every single night, I can promise you, I will go in there and just stare at him sleeping, just to know that he's home and he's safe, and no one's shooting at him," Pam said.
"It's been really hard not having my friend here and not knowing where he is or if he's doing ok," Sheena said.
Soon, she too will leave home to train in the Army. And at 18, Sheena only hopes she won't have to see the things Blake, 20, did in Ramadi and Fallujah.
"They trained us all day, everyday, for that stuff," Blake said. "But until you're actually there, it's a whole different ballgame."
But amid tragedy, there were a few things Blake could look forward to this weekend.
"Wow. My car. My car and my family," he said. "My mom and my fiancee. And my grandmom, because every time I talked to her, she had that East Texas slang."
Blake showed us his Marine uniforms. He's a lance corporal. One of his most memorable duties was during the Iraqi elections, when he helped to protect the borders to Jordan and Saudi Arabia. And every now and then, the desert landscape would offer something to remind him of home.
"All the kids and the whole families are out there playing soccer and stuff like that," he said. "And we just wanted to pull over and play soccer with them. And we did one time. And they're good. They beat us pretty bad."
All memories Blake says he will likely go back to in the coming months, when he expects to be deployed again.