San Antonio International Airport was teeming with men and women in uniform Friday morning as members of the military began their annual holiday block leave.

An estimated 4,500 servicemen and women from Fort Sam Houston and Lackland and Goodfellow Air Force bases began the annual holiday exodus.

The Army is doing things differently this year in hopes of making the situation more manageable.

“We are bringing soldiers to the airport based on departure times versus one big push early in the day, which we did last year,” said Col. Jonathon Frystoe, from Fort Sam Houston. “Part of that is to relieve congestion at the airport and to make it more convenient to the soldiers.”

Soldiers like Jacqueline Dougherty all anxious for a break in training.

“It’s just such a nice break just to go home and be with my family and be a civilian again,” Dougherty said.

For Private 1st Class Ralph Bertoria it’s a chance to see his 1-year-old daughter Lilly.

“I think I’m just going to sit and watch my daughter,” he said. “I got to watch her grow up on a computer screen for the last six months, so I’m going to just sit and enjoy time with her.”

The annual block leave for the military ends on Jan. 2.

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