This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Those who happened to be at Huntsville International Airport Friday may have heard thunderous applause, saw a motorcycle motorcade and flag-wavers.  Those folks were greeting a group of special visitors from our nation’s military who arrived for a weeklong celebration for their service.

The crowd waved the American flag and welcome signs to show their support as local veterans arrived from their honor flight after touring the country.    

It was an unforgettable trip and greeting for Marine Sergeant Ryan Peck.

“I never really ever felt anything like that. I think the closest thing I had to that was when I first became a Marines,” he told News 19. 

Marine Corpsman Austin Smith is a wounded veteran who said he was completely overwhelmed by the gesture. 

“It’s really nice after going through all of my treatments and all of that. And having such a big community here is just to be here for us is really heartwarming and just a nice feeling,” Smith said.

Sixteen U.S. troops, both men and woman arrived in Huntsville as part of the annual Semper Fi Heroes Week Kickoff. A week-long celebration of their lives as protectors of our country. 

“We couldn’t do it without the support from the community that ranges from Guntersville, all the way up to Meridianville. We have people coming from all the way down in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa to support the activities that we have here,” said David Bonwit of Semper Fi Community Task Force.

Formally Hero’s Week, Friday is the beginning of what is now an eight-day event. The veterans will be in the area until November 12. Plenty of time for the Huntsville community to say thank you. 

“Whatever we can do to make sure that those veterans are being recognized and awarded for what they’ve done for this country should not be forgotten ever,” said Lieutenant Colonel Glenn Mellur of Redstone Arsenal.

According to Redstone Arsenal records, over 350,000 United States veterans who served in the military call Alabama home. All will be honored in spirit in the coming week.