FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — The Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation’s Leisure Travel Services expects to assist more than 6,000 service members with travel arrangements this year, according to LTS Manager Aaron O’Donoghue.
“Our mission for (Holiday Block Leave) is to support and ensure that every service member in training here has the opportunity to travel home for the holidays, whether it be by parent-pick up, flight or charter bus,” O’Donoghue said. “Our team works to find them the best travel option, no matter the destination.”
The LTS team did just that on Monday, when more than 250 trainees with Company C, 31st Engineer Battalion, lined up at Davidson Fitness Center — a location on post large enough to process hundreds of service members at a time — to make travel arrangements for the holidays.
Spc. Cruz Holguin, who is headed home to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, said HBL will allow him to catch up with family and friends.
“Christmas is my favorite holiday, and I’m excited to get back home and see my wife and for my entire family to get together so I can see everyone’s faces,” he said. “My dad recently had a couple of surgeries, so I’m ready to get back to see how he’s doing.”
For Spc. Titilayo Akporido, the opportunity to go home to Conyers, Georgia, will allow the college student to reconnect with family and get prepared for her next semester after training.
“I’m planning on finding a new apartment to move into for school when I get back,” she said. “Christmas is also my favorite holiday, so I’m excited to participate in my family’s traditions. I love decorating the tree and making gingerbread.”
Pvt. Mckalyb Williams, who, like Akporido, took a break from college to attend training, said he is excited to go back to Little Rock, Arkansas, to celebrate with his family and prepare for the upcoming spring semester.
“It’s been a while since I’ve seen my family, so I’m ready to get back and see them, check on my friends and see how everyone is doing in my hometown and get ready for school,” Williams said.
Although processing travel arrangements for thousands of service members requires the LTS team to work long hours during this time of year, O’Donoghue said the impact his team’s work has on morale is worth it.
“We look forward to the smiles on the faces of the service members as they make their holiday arrangements and prepare to head home to family and friends,” O’Donoghue said.
In addition to those travelling home for the holidays, the LTS team also assists service members who are unable to make it home or choose to stay at Fort Leonard Wood with what’s called a holdover company for the holidays.
“We work hand-in-hand with the holdover companies and local communities to provide an array of fun recreational activities, entertainment and trips to provide those who stay here with a great holiday experience,” O’Donoghue said.
Visit the LTS website for more information on travel and entertainment discounts available here.