JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Holiday greetings from military members serving overseas are a tradition this time of year.
Local Army veteran Chris Dill got to greet his family in person Monday, his first time home in two years.
Dill has been serving in Afghanistan, but now he's home for the holidays.
"Excited, warm, very warm," he said. "Thrilled to be home to Florida."
Dill wasn't expecting a news crew to greet him as he arrived at Jacksonville International Airport. That was a surprise.
"It's still kind of hitting me," he said. "I was not expecting this whatsoever. So we'll have to talk about that, but you know, I'm excited to be home."
Dill graduated from Ridgeview High School in 2010 and currently serves in the Army, working with heavy machinery. His parents met him at the airport to give him a warm welcome. He'll be here through the new year.
"This is his first time coming home," said Melissa Stoudt, Dill's mother. "I knew I was going to do this his first time coming home since deployment, and we're going to finally get to see him for Christmas. We haven't seen him for Christmas in over two years."
Stoudt said it's scary having her son in Afghanistan.
"It's not been easy. It's been very tough," she said. "He's a mama's boy, I don't care what he says."
But this Christmas, the family is at ease knowing Dill is home safe.
"Coming home is probably the best Christmas present yet," Stoudt said.
Dill said he's happy to be home with his loved ones, but he hasn't been lonely overseas.
"I say the best way to look at it is you have a new family, so you kind of embrace them," he said. "But there's no one like the ones back home."
His family is throwing him a welcome home party and one more party before he leaves again, right after the new year.
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