They dolled up in their Easter Sunday finest - not just for church, but for another kind of guiding force in their lives.
"Daddy!" screams a little girl.
And with all the exhilaration of an Easter Egg hunt, children and adults alike bolted to speed the embrace they've been denied for the past half year. One-hundred-sixteen more members of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 are home after a six-month deployment in Guam.
"I am very, very, very, happy to get to this day," says Lt. Dustin Kwok of San Francisco, California. "It's been a long time."
Soldiers from all parts of the county make up the 650 members of NMCB 133, including south Mississippians.
"It's great to be home, back in Gulfport," says Lt. Mike Meno of Gulfport, "especially on Easter to be back with the family."
And how long is the laundry list, things-to-do list for him?
"Oh, it's really, really long," says his wife, Pauline. "I think he can start tomorrow though," she says.
New Orleans native Lt. Scott Lafont says it was difficult to leave his family behind just a few short months after Katrina. He's stunned by how much they, like the surroundings, have changed.
"They changed a lot," says Scott. "He's walking and she's a lot taller and smarter."
Navy officials expect 3 more flights like this in the coming weeks to bring all 650 members of Battalion 133 home before the end of April. Then they say, they'll happily resume their own "to-do list" in the hurricane recovery effort.
"Now that I'm back, with my guys, I looking forward to anything I can do," says SK-1 Patrick Rutherford of Atlanta, Georgia.
But first, they've got some catching up to do.