Greensboro, NC-- It's something you don't see often, an escort of Patriot Guard Riders, not in a military funeral procession.
But that's exactly what happened in Greensboro Saturday afternoon as the motorcycle enthusiasts brought home a soldier to his mother just in time for Mother's Day.
The soldier's grandfather said it best "there was no rain in Adams Farm Saturday but there sure was a lot of thunder."
Patriot Guard Riders, all 45 of them, roared into the soldier's old neighborhood, as community members, lining the streets cheered and clapped.
"This is definitely very welcoming," Private First Class Neil Jones, II said.
The entrance was a homecoming fit for the best of war heroes.
"It's a great feeling because I know that I can see it in their eyes their all excited to do this," Jones said.
For the riders, it was their feel-good mission; a recharging of sorts for the men and women usually seen together at funerals.
"We couldn't be happier and more proud to be here and stand for him," said Rick Rohme, the ride captain. "What a great time? He's coming home before Mother's Day."
in Afghanistan on July 4th, 2011.
No one was more charged to see the soldier than Lovie Abdelaal.
"Hi, mom!" the soldier exclaimed while hugging Abdelaal minutes after landing at the Greensboro airport.
"Welcome home, baby. Welcome home," Abdelaal replied with tears forming in her eyes.
The mother of four has waited almost a year for this moment.
"My heart's been overseas for the last year," she said through tears, even though she has had a strong support system here through other military moms here in the Triad..
"When we knew things were really bad, we'd set up times around the clock, and a mom would be up praying around the hour...until we start hearing from our boys again."
The whole family was overwhelmed with emotions as they waited for Jones' plane to land.
Virginia Dodson, Jones's grandmother, traveled from out of town to wait with the rest of the family at the airport.
"We're truly blessed today to be here and this is the day that I've longed for."
Grandfather, James Dodson added: "I feel real good. This is not just important for Neil. It's important for our neighbors, it's important for the town, it's important for everybody."
Neil will be home for 30 days. He'll then head to a US. Military base in Hawaii where he'll be until his next deployment.
"I know he has another deployment coming up, but we're not going to think about that. That's out in the future," his mother said.
The homecoming was thanks to someone people in the triad knew well: former Triad area sportscaster Rich Brenner got the ball rolling months ago.
It was a bittersweet celebration for Brenner's widow Judy who says she wishes Rich had lived to see the result of his work. Brenner died in February.