Even though it was a day after Christmas, Private First Class Matt Roesel's family was glad to get this present late.
Roesel returned to Rockdale Monday after two tours of duty in Iraq in the war zone with 11 Bravo Company.
"It doesn't get any better than this. Merry Christmas," said one of the friends and family that lined Route 6 Joliet to welcome him home.
Members of the Warrior Watch Honor Guard were also on hand to welcome Roesel home.
"It's just a great privilege to get out here and welcome these young men and women home and just say thank you for serving our country," Vietnam Veteran John Sanders said.
Roesel, a Minooka High School grad, now looks forward to life as a civilian.
"I had to keep going. Everything that happened over there was an experience, but I came home healthy and good and I'm ready to start my life over," he said.