CARY – Dozens of military personnel, who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford the airfare, will now be coming home for the holidays.

It’s all thanks to the efforts of one Cary resident and corporate executive, Ed Roshitsh.

Last Saturday on whim, he wrote a LinkedIn post inviting others to send him names of active duty service personnel who couldn’t pay for their flights home. He would pay for up to five people to fly back – from anywhere in the world.

“I naively, innocently threw this out there, thinking that I will be able to give away, maybe, my five tickets,” recalls Roshitsh, 55, chief executive with the Cary-based firm Dude Solutions, who is also an Air Force veteran. He served for five years in the 1980s.

Dude Solutions full leadership team …
Lee Prevost (co-founder), Karen Waggener, Tom Knox (Chief Revenue Officer), Catherine Harrell, Ed Roshitsh, Jodi McDermott, Pam Rose, Steve Shillingsburg (SVP of Product Engineering). Source: Dude Solutions.

For about 18 hours, he didn’t hear much back. Then he got an avalanche of responses – both from people offering up names, and those wanting to chip in to the cause.

“The thing just blew up. Like a snowball going down a hill, it caught more traction.”

By Tuesday, he had raised enough funds to cover more than two dozen flights, and held a love drawing on YouTube with 55 names placed in a Dude Solutions bag.

Today, that number has jumped to 31 tickets – and counting. The average ticket price is $900 – totaling roughly $30,000 collected so far.

“These people are heroes. They’re putting their lives on the line; their families are sacrificing. I think a pay grade E-1 probably makes $15-16,000 a year.”

Roshitsh will cover the five most expensive flights – including one from Okinawa, Japan to Palm Springs.

“He’s a private first class. That’s a $3000 ticket. I’m guessing that’s probably 20 percent of his paycheck for the whole year, just for that plane ticket home. He was not going to get home for Christmas if someone didn’t step in.”

He adds: “Anybody could do this. Sponsoring one military person to get back home from the holidays is a real tangible thing. I had no special power. I had a keyboard and five sentences, and got this thing rolling. Where there’s a will there’s a way.”

Roshitsh says there’s still time to do more.

“As long as people are willing to step forward, if we get a few more tickets, I’ve got plenty of names. I still have 20 names in the hat. We’ll keep drawing into it until we run out of donations.