PALM DESERT, Calif. -

Oasis Country Club in Palm Desert welcomed Marines from the Twentynine Palms Air Station on Monday. They showed their appreciation to the 17 troops with a barbeque lunch buffet and a game of golf.

"I was actually surprised on how much support, it's all for us, I wasn't expecting it," said Aaron Buttrey, a combat engineer.

John Kay, an organizer of the event, also served eight years in the U.S. Armed Forces. He said the holiday is a time to celebrate those who came home and others who didn't.

"It is hard to express what these people do for us each and everyday. To walk around as free as we are,” he said.

"I had a couple of friends who passed away in Afghanistan. It's all because of them why I'm here now," said Buttrey.

For many of the Marines teeing off and mingling with the community, they agreed there's power behind two simple words that can make a world of a difference.

"Thank you is something so small, but to us it's something so big. For everyone to come up and just say thank you, it's awesome," said Jerrod Tisko, an aviation mechanic.