Hekmati welcomed home by Marines - WNEM TV 5

Hekmati welcomed home by Marines

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FLINT, MI (WNEM) -

It was a scene that was four and a half years in the making.

A plane carrying Amir Hekmati landed at Flint's Bishop Airport shortly after 4 p.m.

The former Marine, held hostage in an Iranian prison for all those years, was finally home.

"I'm standing here healthy, tall, and with my head held high," Hekmati said.

He huddled with media for a brief time before reuniting with family and friends.

And before he left the airport, he took some time to give thanks to Patriot Guard Veterans and supporters who were here to welcome him home.

Mike Key, a retired Marine, was once of them.

"I got to hug him," Key said. "Oh it was awesome, man."

He said he's been hoping for this day since he learned Hekmati was imprisoned, but he didn't know greeting him would come with a Marine's welcome.

"First thing out of his mouth was Semper Fi. You have to be a Marine to understand what that means to us, and he's a brother, and you don't leave brothers behind," Key said.

And that brother is now home and even members of his extended family were on hand as part of the welcoming party.

"I am sure the family is so excited, it's hard to believe, but we're so thankful that he's back, and the strength that he's had in enduring this is just wonderful," said Anne Ranville, who had worked with Hekmati’s father.

Hekmati can finally enjoy the freedom he helped secure as a Marine.

"It's great to be back in Flint, my hometown. I love this city, I love its people," Hekmati said.

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