Nearly 5,000 Soldiers Pass through Charlotte Airport to go Home for the Holidays

Almost 5,000 soldiers passed through Charlotte-Douglas International Airport Friday for “Operation Exodus.” The soldiers are on their way home for the holidays.

They're in basic training at Fort Jackson, and they get to spend the next two weeks with their families, while they're on leave.

Private First Class Ashley Johnson said, “It’s been really hard to break out of the civilian life.” She’s only been in basic training for two weeks.

PFC Johnson said, “Mommy’s going to be happy to see me. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to stick to the military standards like how I eat and folding my clothes and making my bed and all.”

PFC Johnson will be missing someone this Christmas. Her grandfather, Andrew Johnson, was a Vietnam vet. She joined the Army because of him. She said, “I want to kind of make him proud of me and take care of my family and serve my country.”

Her grandfather died just before she got the chance to tell him she was following in his footsteps. PFC Johnson said, “I made a promise to him that I will always take care of my grandmother.”

Volunteers from the USO were on hand to greet the soldiers as they passed through the airport Friday. Former Carolina Panthers player Mike Rucker, the team mascot Sir Purr, and members of the Top Cats were also at the event to welcome the military members to Charlotte.