All the worries just melted away for Pat Aliotti, now that her youngest son John is home from Iraq.
"You're home safe and sound. Thank God, thank God. Our prayers are answered," said Pat, John's mother.
Sergeant Lieutenant John Aliotti and his wife pulled up to the family's Pittsburg home at 7 p.m., just in time to enjoy a Fourth of July weekend like no other.
"We celebrate the birth of our country, the Fourth of July. What more can you ask for? John's here now," said Pat Aliotti, a soldier's mother.
"Being in this country, in this area, in this state, it couldn't be better. It's awesome," said John.
It was not always awesome in Iraq where Sergeant Aliotti spent 14 months as an army combat medic in the second infantry division. Shortly after arriving, a roadside bomb exploded under his Stryker armored vehicle, the first of two such attacks.
"It penetrated the Stryker in two spots. We had a bunch of ammo cans filled with ammunition and luckily the ammo cans took the brunt of the blast. And if it wasn't for the ammo cans, I might not be here right now," said John.
At age 25, this graduate of Pittsburg High School walked the dangerous streets of Iraq, seeing his share of combat and treating more than two dozen wounded, mostly Iraqis.
"They weren't Americans, but they were still people and I felt for them. And the ones I did save, I got a great feeling, a sense of accomplishment knowing they can go back to their families," said John.
For his mother, this homecoming is a matter of perspective.
"I just feel bad for the families, the mothers who lost their sons in Iraq and didn't come back. And mine did and I'm just so thankful to God," said Pat.
Sgt. John Aliotti will be home for the rest of this month followed by one last month back at Fort Lewis Washington, where he will close out his four year military career. He says he then wants to pursue a career in nursing so he can help the people in the community where he grew up.