FORT JACKSON - The first of some 7,000 Fort Jackson Army soldiers are starting their annual two-week holiday leave.

Army spokeswoman Kara Motosicky says the soldiers in basic training will begin departing Wednesday evening just before midnight.

The troops are leaving the military installation outside Columbia on buses, trains, and in private vehicles. Other buses are taking soldiers to airports in Columbia, Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C., for flights home. Senior enlisted soldiers are stationed at the airports to oversee the departures and assist if any soldiers are delayed or stranded.

All are due back Jan. 3rd.

About 100 soldiers in basic training remain at Fort Jackson through the holiday. A special battalion makes sure they are cared for and enjoy the holidays with entertainment and special foods.