By Dillon Thomas

DENVER (CBS4)– As thousands made their way through security at Denver International Airport to make their destination for the holidays, many gathered at the airport to welcome home loved ones for Christmas. Friday was one of the busiest travel days of the year at DIA, which frequently ranks among the busiest airports in the nation.

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One of those returning home was Austin Rhodus, a newly enlisted member of the Navy.

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“(I am) going to cry,” said Debbie Rhodus, Austin’s mother, as she waited for him to arrive. “He is just 18, and never has really been away from home.”

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The Rhodus family surprised Austin with a large group waiting for him at the terminal. Friends, siblings, and grandparents held signs for him as he walked up the escalator.

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“I was just expecting my parents, and sister,” Austin said.

His mother, fighting back tears, said Christmas wouldn’t have been the same without her son gone.

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“I am just super excited to have him home,” Debbie said.

“It gave me twitters in my heart. I was about ready to cry myself. I am so proud of him,” said Scott Rhodus, Austin’s father. “To see him come home with all the support from friends and family, it was just awesome.”

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The Rhodus’ said they were simply happy to be together for the holiday. Austin said he was looking forward to being with loved ones for the first time in months.

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“(I am looking forward to) just being with my family, hanging out with my friends, and seeing the mountains again,” Austin said.

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Dillon Thomas is a reporter at CBS4 and a Colorado native. He believes everyone has a story, and would love to share yours! You can find more of his stories by following him on Twitter, @DillonMThomas.

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