LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The only combat unit at Fort Knox is now officially inactivated. It means thousands of soldiers and their families are leaving Fort Knox, and the impact will be felt throughout Hardin County.

As the band played on, families watched from the bleachers. The casing of colors marked the end of an era on a Fort Knox field Wednesday.

“We'll roll the colors up and put a casing over them so they'll no longer be flying in the wind," said Col. William Ostlund.

“I liked having served with the unit and it’s a shame to see them go away,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Powers.

The Army's 3rd Brigade Combat Team 1st Infantry Division, better known as the Duke Brigade, is inactivating. Three thousand troops are leaving the Kentucky post for reassignments elsewhere in the U.S. and Europe. It's a sign of changing times.

“About every soldier that will be on the field today has served approximately 9 months in Afghanistan,” said Ostlund.

Fewer combat soldiers are needed as the war in Afghanistan draws to a close at the end of the year.

The 3/1 is one of 10 combat teams scheduled for inactivation by 2015.

But it means painful changes for the Hardin County community -- the same community that's supported these soldiers. We talked to business owners earlier this year.

"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," the owner of Elizabethtown’s Boot Country, James Stroud, told WDRB in February.

Fort Knox Community Schools will lose 750 students and is closing four schools. It's laying off approximately 130 employees. Outside the post gates, 540 students won't be coming back next year to Hardin County Public Schools.

But that's how it goes in the Army. For these soldiers and families, the close of this chapter means the start of the next.

“You're sad the colors are casing, but at the same time, you know you were part of something great -- and I don't doubt the colors will stand up again,” said 1st Lt. Marco Kilongkilong.

The Duke Brigade came to Fort Knox in 2009. It's been a part of every war since World War I with the exception of Korea.

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