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After 2-year tour, Marine surprises family in time for Christmas

MEDWAY, Mass.-- U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Benjamin Bauman's parents had no idea their son was coming home for the holidays.

The 21-year-old Medway, Massachusetts, resident had been gone for two years on tour in Afghanistan.

"I have not hugged him for two years since he got home from Afghanistan," Nancy Bauman, Benjamin's mother, said.

The emotional homecoming came just in time for Christmas -- and CBS Boston was there to capture the reunion.

"It means everything to me. I miss my family so much and it's amazing to be home," Benjamin Bauman said.

But the trip home almost didn't happen -- but it did -- thanks to Erin Vasselian.

CBS Boston reports that Bauman was flown in from California thanks to a generous gift from Vasselian, who runs a non-profit named after her late husband Sgt. Daniel Vasselian. Daniel was killed in Afghanistan in 2013. This week marks their six-year wedding anniversary.

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Erin Vasselian with her late husband Sgt. Daniel Vasselian. CBS Boston

"When I saw there was Marine who wanted to come home, but couldn't afford it, I knew this was the point of our foundation," she said. "We want to help (the) military be with their families."

Vasselain was contacted by Lauren Eliopoulos, who runs Hero Helpers of America. Lauren helped set all of the commercial and private flights, as well as the big surprise.

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Nancy Bauman seeing her son for the first time in two years. CBS Boston

"It's what Christmas is about for me. The day my brother joined the military, my life changed," Eliopoulos said.

Benjamin Bauman was overcome with thankfulness.

"It means so much that people care about veterans. That means a lot to us," he said.

"The fact that he is able to be home...What more can you ask for?" said father Peter Bauman.

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