It wasn't the kind of welcome home a Gulfport Seabee expected. It was much better than he expected.
Troy 'T-J' Hirsh was among the 150 members of NMCB-133 who returned on Sunday after six months in Iraq.
As with any military homecoming event, there are those who are greeted by the warm smiles of family or friends and those who are not. Hirsh thought he would be in the latter group.
What he didn't know was that someone was willing to go the extra mile to make sure that didn't happen.
With so many families waiting to welcome back the Seabees, Cindy Hirsh felt her son Troy would be hurt if no one he loved was there for him.
"He's got a wife and a daughter that are in Italy and they aren't able to be here," she said. "I just got informed on Thursday, so it was a one day surprise for myself. And I just said, 'I'm going because I didn't want him to come home to nobody.'"
Hirsh decided to put her life in Buffalo on hold and book a flight to Gulfport to meet Troy's plane on Sunday. She asked her mother to come along on her last minute trip.
Loretta Czerwonka said, "I like to plan. I'm not the type that will just do something, you know, like I did this time."
They'd waited months for him to come home. Now they'd have to wait a few more minutes for the plane to unload. Troy's mother and grandmother found the excitement and expectation almost unbearable.
"I can't explain the feeling," said Czerwonka."It's just wonderful to know that they're on the ground."
A surprised Troy "T.J" Hirsh said seeing his family was a blessing he wishes everyone who comes home from the War on Terror could share.
"It feels great," he said. "I wish it for everybody that gets off the plane. I wish someone would come down for everybody. It's a nice thing to come to especially a welcome home like this."
The family says sometimes the best moments in life are the ones that weren't planned. Cindy Hirsh said it was well worth the trip.
"Oh yes," she responded. "It was and I'd do it again."