NEPTUNE, N.J. (CBS 2) — Thanksgiving came a week early for a central New Jersey mom on Thursday.

Not only did Carol Benedetto’s daughter and son-in-law, who are both Marines, make it home for the holidays but, as CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reports in an exclusive story, they also brought home something extra.

It’s been 18 months since Benedetto has seen her daughter, Korin Gray.

A lot has changed in a year and half — Gray is now married and expecting her first child.

“She’s probably gonna cry,” Gray said before reuniting with her mother. “Then she’s gonna rub my belly.”

US Marines Mike and Korin Gray eloped in March in Japan and this was the first time he was going to meet his mother-in-law.

On the drive down to Neptune, N.J. Michael told Aiello he’s “a little nervous, cause I haven’t met her face to face, but mostly excited.”

The couple was also exhausted.

Their 37 hour journey home saw them fly from Okinawa, to Tokyo, then on to San Francisco, over to Atlanta before making two stops in North Carolina and finally arriving in Newark.

As the couple journeyed their last hour to Neptune, Benedetto gathered outside her office with co-workers but had no idea what was in store for her.

“She has no idea, she thinks we’re here to do a story on occupational health at Meridian Health,” Rob Cavanaugh said.

Instead, Benedetto got the surprise of her life.

First came a big hug for her daughter and then a first hug for her son-in-law.

“She left all by herself and when she comes home she brings a husband and my first grandson!” Benedetto said. “I just can’t believe she’s here in front of me!”

“I knew that I would love him because she loves him” Benedetto said.

The couple will spend two weeks in New Jersey before heading to Tampa so Korin can finally meet Michael’s family.

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