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900 soldiers leave Fort Huachuca for first time in months for the holidays

'I feel like it’s almost unreal'
Fort Huachuca Soldiers.jpg
Posted at 9:25 AM, Dec 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-18 11:25:05-05

FORT HUACHUCA, AZ — Soldiers training on Fort Huachuca are going home for the holidays. More than 900 soldiers are heading home, many for the first time since leaving for basic training.

Private Jeremiah Huff was one of the soldiers waiting for a bus to the Tucson Airport on Sunday morning. He is heading to Ohio to see his family and friends for the first time in almost half a year.

“I feel like it’s almost unreal," Huff expressed. "It’s just a very weird feeling from being away for so long and going back. I’m excited, but it’s just strange.”

Colonel Brendon Dever, the 111th Military Intelligence Brigade Commander, says soldiers are going back to almost all 50 states, 18 countries, and four continents. He adds the block leave transportation event is important for the installation and soldiers because it helps leadership know where their soldiers are going and makes sure they get there safely.

“Some of them again have been here quite a while, so a lot of excitement to go home," Col. Dever shared. "Everybody coming through the gym, what you see here today is being accounted for, tracked where they’re going, and sending them on their way.”

Private First Class Josie Rhodes is traveling to Mississippi where she'll reunite with her younger sister.

“She was born like a week before I left. So, she’s little, she’s small," she said. "And part of the reason I joined was for my children to look up to me and say, ‘Wow, she did that’, but now it’s like I want my little sister to look up to me and be like, ‘That’s my big sister and this is what she did.’ I think it’s going to be really exciting seeing her.”

The installation organizes transportation for the soldiers to the Tucson Airport, based on when their fights are.

“It might sound easy to send someone home on vacation, but remember these soldiers are...they are away from home for the first time, for many of them,” Col. Dever added.

The soldiers will have ten days off to enjoy with their families before heading back to Fort Huachuca to resume their training. Col. Dever says this break lets them return more relaxed and refreshed for the latter half of their training.

'I feel like it’s almost unreal': 900 soldiers leave Fort Huachuca for first time in months, for the holidays
'I feel like it’s almost unreal': 900 soldiers leave Fort Huachuca for first time in months, for the holidays