Associated Press

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) — Spc. Chris Allen grabbed his 17-month-old son, Colson, hugged his wife, Kristin, and celebrated returning to Fort Campbell on Wednesday after six months in Afghanistan. But an undercurrent of sadness filtered through the joy of the moment: The end of the six-month deployment for Allen and about 140 other soldiers with the fabled “Band of Brothers” brigade also augured the end of their days together as a unit.

“It sucks,” Allen, of Lockhart, Texas, told The Associated Press. “I don’t want to go to a different unit.”

The 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, also known as the Currahees, is one of 10 brigade combat teams that the Army will shut down between now and 2015.

The Army announced Monday that the shutdown process for those teams would speed up, with budget cuts forcing the military to decommission units by 2015 instead of 2017 as originally planned.

The inactivation of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, which became famous in a book by historian Stephen Ambrose and a subsequent HBO miniseries produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, is set to take place in the spring, but no official date has been set.

The Army plans to reduce the size of its fighting force from a high of about 570,000 at the peak of the Iraq war to 490,000 — a reflection of budget cuts and of the country’s current military needs as wars in Iraq and Afghanistan end.

Family members waved homemade signs and screamed out as the soldiers stepped off the plane. Once inside a nearby hangar, joyful reunions were everywhere. Hands were held, kisses exchanged, children who had learned to walk or talk while their fathers and mothers were overseas drank in the adults they hadn’t seen in a quarter to half their lifetimes.

-Uploaded by Miranda Britt