Early returns bring joy to Fort Campbell families

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Associated Press

Posted on February 28, 2013 at 8:01 AM

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) — Many Fort Campbell families are getting good news as flights of soldiers return home early from their nine-month deployments to Afghanistan.

More than 100 soldiers from the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division returned to the installation on the Kentucky-Tennessee state line early Wednesday morning about five months into their deployment. Two more flights of soldiers from the division who are returning early are expected to arrive home in the next two days.

The Leaf-Chronicle (http://leafne.ws/Wi61t4 ) reports that the brigade is sending some of its units home early because of the changing mission in Afghanistan to turn over control to Afghan security forces.

"Welcome home and job well done," Brig. Gen. Ronald Lewis, deputy commanding general for support told the soldiers after their plane arrived at the Campbell Army Airfield. "These great cavalry men have flown over 17,000 hours accident free, taking care of those on the ground. Job well done."

About 5,000 soldiers from the installation are currently deployed to Afghanistan, and more are expected to deploy. The division is working to prepare the Afghan security forces for the eventual withdrawal of combat forces in 2014.

Lewis said the mission "first and foremost is to make sure the Afghans can secure their own country, provide their own security and to bring our own forces and equipment back. The reason we are close to being able to do that is because we have had the 101st Airborne over there coaching, advising, assisting and working with the Afghans."

Pvt. Kyle Travis Levings was one of the soldiers who arrived on Wednesday, but his mother couldn't physically travel to his welcome home ceremony because she is eight months' pregnant. So Travis Levings' grandmother used a laptop computer to live stream video from the ceremony to his family in Oklahoma.

"It feels amazing to be home," Travis Levings said. "I couldn't ask for a better feeling right now."

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Information from: The Leaf-Chronicle, http://www.theleafchronicle.com

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