Fort Gordon soldiers thankful to be flying home for Thanksgiving

By: Katie Beasley Email
By: Katie Beasley Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- It was a busy day on the roads and in the skies as thousands flew out of Augusta Regional on Wednesday.

The airport is buzzing, nearly all flights sold out from Augusta Regional Airport. It's hard to miss the hundreds of soldiers, bags packed, ready to fly home.

"Home is Bridgewater, South Dakota. It's probably somewhere you've never been, never heard of, but it's home for me," said Army Private Brett Vondra.

"I'm very excited, we actually got here May 4th, so this is the first time home in about seven months," said Private Alexander Freeman from Queens, N.Y.

"Words cannot express how excited I am actually," said Richard Heinig from Wyoming.

They're all ready for a hot Thanksgiving meal, spending time with family and friends ... and some other things.

"What are you most looking forward to?" asked News 12's Katie Beasley.

"My Cadillac," replied Army Staff Sgt.Joshua Andre Estrada from Colorado Springs.

"Your Cadillac?" Beasley asked.

"Yes, the heated seats," he laughed.

"I actually have pizza waiting for me when I get off the plane," Freeman said.

"Pizza? Why pizza?" Beasley asked.

"Because, New York is famous for its pizza," Freeman said.

Retired Sgt. Clifford Hull watched the Fort Gordon soldiers with pride.

"It's nice to see them go home for the holidays. The United States needs their service," Hull said.

The Vietnam veteran remembers spending time in this very same airport.

"I flew out of here twice to Vietnam. Sad coming out, happy going back," he explained.

For these three soldiers, it's off to three different cities across the country.

"Hard to be away from friends and family, but we're doing what we're supposed to," Freeman said.

"It's good to know we're supported. It helps. It helps to know people back home are proud of what we're doing and the hardships we go through," Estrada said.

Now these men and women are off to catch long flights that somehow all lead back home.

"I'm so excited. I'm ready to be home, finally," Vondra said.

"Hi Mom, hi Dad. I'll see you guys eventually," Estrada said.

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