101st Airborne Division Soldiers Return Home From Iraq, More Big Groups to Follow

Nearly 450 soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division began returning home Friday from Iraq, with more big groups expected soon at Fort Campbell, base officials said.

The first of two flights expected Friday arrived early at the sprawling Army base that straddles the Tennessee-Kentucky line. Up to four flights, each of about 200 soldiers, are expected next week.

"We're getting to the point where the main body of the units are prepared to come in," said Fort Campbell spokeswoman Cathy Gramling. "Every time we welcome soldiers home, it's important and it's a great time to be at Fort Campbell."

Most of the nearly 20,000 soldiers in the division should be back from Iraq by the end of November, Gramling said.

Vickie Kane and her husband traveled from Arkansas to greet their son, 23-year-old Spc. Adam Kane, on Friday. They were joined by their three other children and daughter-in-law, Amanda Kane.

CountryWatch: Iraq

"Of course we're proud. They've served so honorably. We're relieved. It's been a long year for everybody. We know it's been hard for them to be away from home," Vickie Kane said.

The family drove in a van and a truck that had painted on the side in bold red, white and blue letters: "We Love You Adam" and "We Love 101st Airborne."

The 101st Airborne is finishing up its second year-long deployment to Iraq. The first came at the start of the war in 2003, then troops returned for about a year before the second deployment in October.

Fort Campbell has had 166 soldiers die in the Iraq war since 2003. More than 150 of those were from the 101st Airborne.

The troops are returning as four soldiers with the division's 3rd Brigade in Tikrit, Iraq, face murder charges in the deaths of Iraqi detainees near Samarra.

Five other soldiers from the 101st's 2nd Brigade face charges for allegedly raping and murdering an Iraqi teenager and her family. Another soldier is charged with failing to report it.

An Al Qaeda-linked group posted a Web video that purported to show the mutilated bodies of two Fort Campbell soldiers — Pfc. Kristian Menchaca and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker — claiming it killed them in revenge for the alleged rape and murders.