Operation Homefront brings Upstate marine home for Christmas - FOX Carolina 21

Operation Homefront brings Upstate Marine home for Christmas

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Nick Gianelloni's family welcomes him home. (Dec. 21 2013, Fox Carolina) Nick Gianelloni's family welcomes him home. (Dec. 21 2013, Fox Carolina)
Nick Gianelloni's family welcomes him home. (Dec. 21 2013, Fox Carolina) Nick Gianelloni's family welcomes him home. (Dec. 21 2013, Fox Carolina)
GREER, SC (FOX Carolina) -

An Upstate Marine thought he would be spending Christmas overseas and away from his family, but thanks to a soldier support program and a little help from a major retailer, Nick Gianelloni returned home early Saturday.

Gianelloni's wife Maxine and their two children were waiting with signs welcoming him home when his flight landed at Greenville Spartanburg International Airport Saturday evening.

Maxine said Gianelloni had been stationed in Japan for eight months, and wasn't going to be able to make it home until New Year's Day.

"The only reason he was able to come home was thanks to Operation Homefront," Maxine said. Operation Homefront is an organization that offers financial assistance and other resources to the families of service members, veterans, and wounded warriors.

The organization teamed up with Wal-Mart to fly 50 service members home for the holidays, and Maxine said Gianelloni was selected to be one of them.

"Wal-Mart bought him a ticket to fly home early, and thankfully his command allowed him to do so," Maxine said.

Tears welled in Maxine's eyes as the family was reunited in the check-in area at the airport.

Gianelloni, dressed Marine Corps dress blues, hugged his children who held hand drawn signs while other airport travelers looked on with smiles and cheered for the serviceman and his family.

"I'm so ecstatic," Gianelloni said. "I'm so happy to be here for Christmas."

Gianelloni's time at home won't last long.

"He'll only be home for eight days," Maxine said, "but the kids and I plan to relish every second we get to spend with him."

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