Proud family, friends and community members gathered Saturday night at the VFW post in Somers Point to welcome home U.S. Army Sergeant Christina Rowland.
The Somers Point native just finished a 9 month tour of duty in Afghanistan and expected just a few friends and family to greet her when she returned.
"Once we got into Somers Point it was all the fire trucks, everybody was there and I didn't know this many people supported us being over there, its just an amazing feeling that everyone cares so much," said Sergeant Rowland.
A special limousine, the American Legion Riders and police and fire escorts gave Sergeant Rowland a hero's welcome.
Her family is thrilled by this early Christmas present.
"She's been over in Afghanistan for 9 months and I don't think I slept one night," said her Father John Rowland.
"Every night the phone would ring or something like that, I was always worried but its fantastic to have her home, I'm so proud of her and what a Christmas present."
"It's a great Christmas present for us, the family, and I'm sure this tribute and everyone showing up and welcoming her back, it's a great Christmas present for Chrissy and we love it and thank God she's home safe," said Sergeant Rowland's uncle Frank Brennan.
As for Sergeant Rowland, she looks forward to spending time with the people that inspired her while stationed overseas.
"Its amazing to talk to them, I talked to them all the time when I was over there, that was the only thing that kept me going, kept me strong over there," said Sergeant Rowland.
Sergeant Rowland says the joy of being home hasn't sunk in yet and when it does, she plans to enjoy her time home.
"Hanging out with family and friends and being in America. Enjoying everything American has to offer."
Sergeant Rowland will be home for three weeks before re-joining her unit stationed in Colorado.