OAK LAWN, Ill. (CBS) – Some patriotic bikers made sure a hometown Marine who has served in Afghanistan got the warm homecoming he deserves.

For the last eight months, Lance Cpl. Chris Smith of Chicago Ridge served with the “Dark Horse” 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. Their suffering, in loss-of-life and in injuries, was considerable.

“We took quite a few losses, but we still got the job done,” Smith told CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman.

Having served in the region, he’s been especially tuned in to the Osama bin Laden news.

“It’s definitely a huge start and we did really good work with it. I’m proud.”

Everybody at the celebration in his honor was proud, too – of him.

Friend Nick Buttron said he worried about Smith every day.

 Smith credits everyone from his parents to his coaches for preparing him for life in Afghanistan.  His mom talked about seeing her 20-year-old off to war.

“You’re afraid you’ll lose who your child was before they left,” Lisa Smith said.

She says her Chris came back to her.  He chalks it up to the support of his home base.

“It gave me the attitude that I can do it.  You keep pushing through it no matter how hard it gets,” Smith said.

The young Marine says he learned a lot about the Afghan people.  He says if you show you’re there to help, they’ll work with you. 

He goes back to Camp Pendleton and will get word of another deployment in about a year.  Service is all in the family.  Smith’s brother had to leave the homecoming celebration early for Reserves training.

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