Two brothers hold a handmade sign to welcome their big brother and Army soldier, Tayton, home from active duty on Wednesday.

It was a sea of green inside Lambert-St. Louis International Airport on Wednesday, as nearly 5,000 military men and women in uniform departed home for the holidays. Beginning as early as midnight, service men and women arrived in bus loads from Fort Leonard Wood, and were seen entertaining themselves or catching a nap in seemingly every spare corner of the airport while waiting to board their flights.  The USO of Missouri made it a full celebration, sponsoring photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, among other festive activities.  Just as exciting as seeing the mass military exodus, was the joy and anticipation of loved ones waiting in the terminals to welcome their soldiers into their arms.