July 12, 2010 -- Lance Cpl. Michael Acquaviva felt like a rock star Sunday night, as he lifted his two sisters in a warm embrace.
"[It's] the most amazing feeling in the world," he said.
Like any other rock star coming off tour, he was glad to be home. But for Acquaviva, it was an entirely different journey.
Just days before, Acquaviva was dodging bullets with his fellow Marines in Marja, Afghanistan.
As they were asked about their thoughts on Gen. David Petraeus assuming the role of commanding officer in the very war they were serving in, they were forced to hit the ground to avoid gunfire.
Once the firefight with the Taliban was over, ABC News asked Acquaviva a question: "What's the first thing you do when you get home?"
"Hug my sisters," he responded. "I promised, I told them I'd stay safe -- doing my best."
According to the latest numbers from NATO, more than 330 foreign forces have died in Afghanistan so far this year. Last month's death toll of 102 was a record for the nine-year war.
Luckily, Acquaviva was able to make the 7,200-mile journey home.
Last night, his two sisters and father drove 14 hours straight from their home in Herkimer County, New York, to welcome him at Camp Lejune, North Carolina. Joining them were families for more than 1,000 Marines also making the trip home.
After minutes of calling his name and desperately searching through a crowd of servicemen and women, Acquaviva's sisters were able to finally throw their arms around their brother.
"I'm so happy to see you guys," Acquaviva said, tears welling up in his eyes.