Thousands of families leaving Fort Knox for reassignment
FORT KNOX, Ky. (WDRB) -- The impending departure of the Duke Brigade from Fort Knox is uprooting thousands of families from the Army post while also bracing businesses for a financial hit.
Sgt. Jason Bartlett has had his share of overseas adventures. He's been deployed to Iraq twice and just three months back from Afghanistan.
But his next move will take his entire family across the Atlantic to Vilseck, Germany.
"At first we were a little nervous," said his wife, Teresa Bartlett.
They will uproot their six children thanks to Army reassignment orders. Their twin daughters will have attended four different high schools in four years.
"You know, this is the cycle of our life," Teresa Bartlett said.
It's the same story for 3,000 soldiers at Fort Knox who make up the 3rd Brigade Combat Team 1st Infantry Division, better known as the Duke Brigade.
"They'll all be relocated and will move to other forts within United States and Europe," said Duke Brigade Public Affairs Officer Lt. Chris Packard.
Created during World War I under a different name, the Duke Brigade moved to Fort Knox in 2009.
The only combat brigade at Fort Knox, it is one of 12 units the Army has chosen to inactivate by 2017, since the war in Iraq is over and the war in Afghanistan is dying down.
"It's all part of the Army as a whole, the Dept. of Defense, to kind of shrink the size of the Army to have a stronger but still very effective, very efficient operating army," Lt. Packard said.
James Stroud makes military Stetson hats for the Duke Brigade soldiers at his western store, Boot Country, located in Elizabethtown.
"We'd very much like for them to stay," Stroud said.
When soldiers leave Fort Knox, it hurts the entire community.
"Fort Knox means a lot to Elizabethtown anyway, but when you lose that many folks it's going to make an impact, I'm sure," Stroud said.
And the departure is taking place more swiftly than first thought.
Most soldiers already have received their transfer orders and will be leaving town within the next few months.
Lt. Packard tells WDRB that only a handful of brigade soldiers will remain at the post after this summer.
"I love the area, it's beautiful here, but I'm open to new adventures and I'm ok with leaving," Teresa Bartlett said.
"I like the adventure of not knowing tomorrow."
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