Thousands of soldiers move through Charlotte airport

Observer Staff ReportsDecember 21, 2012 

Charlotte-Douglas International Airport looked like a staging area for a major military push Thursday morning, as nearly 2,300 soldiers headed home for the holidays.

The military members were from Fort Jackson, near Columbia, and they were given two-week leaves from basic training for they could head home for Christmas and New Years.

It was billed as Operation Victory Block Leave, and the USO operation in Charlotte provided a variety of support for the soldiers.

The military members arrived on buses, with about 1,500 soldiers reaching the airport between 3 and 4 a.m. They left on the first bank of departing flights around 7 a.m., headed for a variety of destinations. Another 350 soldiers arrived around 7:30 a.m., and the final group of 300 to 400 soldiers is scheduled to reach the airport from Fort Jackson around 10:30 a.m.

Officials reserved Checkpoint E for the first group of soldiers, with USO volunteers, who arrived at the airport around 3 a.m., helping direct soldiers to where they needed to go.

The USO facility at the airport provided free Wi-Fi and coffee for the soldiers while they waited.

Operation Victory Block Leave launched what will be several busy days at the airport, as people leave and arrive from Charlotte for Christmas.

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