Thousands of members of the military serving in San Antonio began heading home for the holidays.
The mass exodus started Friday with 3,000 soldiers from Fort Sam Houston leaving San Antonio International Airport. About 6,000 are expected to leave the city over three days.
"I'm just excited like you wouldn't believe," said Army Pfc. Joseph Dunlay, who hasn't seen his family in Oklahoma in six months.
"I've never spent this long away from my family. I'm just excited to get back to them," he said.
Pvt. Jahral Bibber said he hasn't ever been away from Boston for so long, either.
"We just had 26 weeks of training, because I just came from basic all the way up to AIT, and we just graduated yesterday. So, I just can't wait to go home and see the family," Bibber said.
Brig. Cmdr. Jonathan Fristoe said planning to get so many people home takes three months.
"There's nothing easy about managing 5,300 people. There's just nothing easy about that," Fristoe said.
Fristoe added that it's his goal to get the soldiers through the airport with as little impact on the public as possible.
For the first time this year, they used a company called Bags Inc. to help meet that goal. About 1,000 soldiers checked in at Fort Sam Houston to help keep fewer soldiers in lines at the airport.
"They do the ticketing and baggage check-in for all the airlines for the airport," Sgt. Maj. Rex Madden said.
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