Last Updated on November 6, 2023
If you’re reading this, I’m sure it is with two important questions in mind:
1- What is it?
2- Will he get it?
What is Christmas Exodus?
Christmas Exodus (or a mass holiday break), put simply, is a break for the holidays. This break only applies to soldiers who are in a training program, not when they have been assigned to their unit.
It is generally about one week before Christmas and continues until a few days after New Year’s. The days for your soldier may vary depending on how the holidays fall.
How Does My Soldier Get Home?
If you are close enough to where he is training, you can pick him up in person. If not, the Army will help to arrange for his transportation home.
Be aware that this time off will count against his leave time; if he’s in basic training, he will go in the hole. If you’re like most, you couldn’t care less as long as it means you’ll get to see him. I mention it because we had to skip one of his block leaves to make up for the days.
My Experience with Exodus at Ft Moore (formerly Benning)
I was close enough to Ft Benning (what it was still called when he was there) to be able to drive over and pick up my husband. Please remember that this is MY experience, and yours could vary depending on which base he is at and who his drill sergeants are.
I was so very nervous about seeing him again. Would he have changed? Would he think I had changed? Would things still be the same? I felt like I was going on a first date. I was excited and giddy, with butterflies in my stomach.
I got to Ft Benning the night before, so I could be there bright and early (as early as they would allow) to pick him up. I don’t know why I even paid for a hotel room; it’s not as if I slept a wink that night.
Picking Him Up on Sand Hill
We were told to go to their barracks on Sand Hill to pick them up. I arrived at 8 a.m. to pick him up, but it was closer to 9 a.m. before he arrived at my car.
I was about the 15th car in line. A line that grew to an untold number as the magical hour rolled around to pick them up to go home.
The DS approached my car, asked me for his name, and radioed in to send him out. He came walking towards me in his Class A’s, long black jacket (that I have never seen him in since), a newly shaved head, and BCGs.
Now for those of you who are unfamiliar with BCGs, be thankful. Be very thankful!
These are the most hideous framed glasses I’ve ever seen in my life. And for my blind as a bat, usually contact lens-wearing husband (at least then), the lenses were seriously Coke bottle thick.
My once handsome husband was now not so much, haha. They are referred to as Birth Control Glasses for a reason! Thank goodness for PRK and LASEK, courtesy of the Army. He was able to get that surgery after his first deployment.
And because of those glasses, I didn’t even recognize my husband until he was about five feet away from me. He had warned me there couldn’t be any PDA when I picked him up, but he did sneak in a quick hug before we got in the car.
But I didn’t get my kiss until he couldn’t see the barracks anymore.
I asked him if he wanted to do anything in Columbus before we left, and he looked at me like I was crazy and said no, let’s go home. I think he was ready for his bed.
Countdowns Never End
Those two weeks were great for us! Although it was very hard not to be on a countdown – I was constantly thinking, “Only xx days until he goes back.”
I didn’t even want to sleep when he was home because it felt like we were wasting time that we could spend together…even though he was still right there. Crazy, I know!
Of course, I’ve been on a constant countdown in one form or another since he joined the Army (until he deploys again, until he comes home, etc.), so I guess, looking back, it was a little prep for the future.
Taking Him Back to Sand Hill
It was very hard to take him back. He had to be dropped off at the reception center by 23:00. When we got there, I parked at the far end of the parking lot.
The DSs were outside with all of the guys lined up who were already back, and they were barking orders. Right back to training mode.
We said “good night” (we never said goodbye when he was in the Army – call me superstitious), and I’m pretty sure I cried the entire way home.
A New Batch of Soldiers Leaving for Exodus
A few years after my husband had his Christmas Exodus, we happened to be returning from a vacation through the Atlanta airport on the day that exodus started.
There were soldiers and Drill Sergeants everywhere you looked. I kept jokingly telling my husband he should go chat up the DSs – I again got a look that told me he thought I was crazy.
It was very late at night, and the DSs were still there making sure all the soldiers made their flights, so rest assured, he’ll find his way back home to you.