ST. LOUIS, COUNTY – Tuesday morning, St. Louis Lambert International Airport was a sea of Army green.

Thousands of soldiers from Fort Leonard Wood arrived at the airport in the early morning hours to start their holiday block leave. Buses started arriving with soldiers around 1:30 a.m.

More than 2,700 soldiers from Fort Leonard Wood are moving through Lambert. The vast majority of those soldiers are new to the military, many of them still in basic training.

When they got to Lambert overnight, they were greeted by some of St. Louis’ most famous mascots, Fredbird and Louie. There were also some military mascots on hand as well.

From the buses, many soldiers made their way to the James S. McDonnell United Service Organizations in Terminal 1.

It’s downstairs, right by the baggage claim. Soldiers could come in there and get some free treats and eats like donuts, pizza, and plenty to drink as they waited for their flights.

Holiday block leave is a big deal for the soldiers because it is likely the first time they have been able to go back home after enlisting in the military and going through some intensive basic training at Fort Leonard Wood.

We spoke with multiple soldiers at Lambert about going home.

“I’m so excited to see my brother,” Private Precious Rodriguez explained. “I love my little brother with everything, but this was like my first time traveling out of California, so it was like a big thing for me. But I adapted, and I got used to it, and now coming home it’s going to be a little weird not having to wake up at 4:30 every day.”

Private Memphis McDaris from Tulsa added, “Me and my mom made a plan, and she’s going to like to run to me at the airport. And that’s what I’m looking forward to most. My mom is everything to me, and I’m just looking forward to seeing my mom again.”

Holiday block leave lasts for two weeks, then the soldiers will come back through Lambert and return for more training at Fort Leonard Wood.