Fort Knox has reached another big milestone in its transformation, as a new infantry brigade was welcomed to the base on Friday.
Fort Knox is in flux, as the Base Realignment and Closure plan is implemented. BRAC is bringing an infantry brigade to the base. It was activated on Friday -- something that's never happened in the storied.
With much fanfare and firepower, Fort Knox welcomed the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Infantry Division to its new home base.
"In my 22 years of service, I have never seen the reception that we've received here," said Col. Chris Toner, the commander of the brigade.
The first-ever infantry brigade to be activated at Fort Knox is getting a generous welcome.
"All of us have been overwhelmed with the support we have received from Fort Knox and the surrounding communities. Please know that all of you make a huge difference in the lives of our soldiers and family members," Toner told the crowd gathered at the activation ceremony.
About 1,100 soldiers were at Friday's ceremony. Another 2,400 have yet to make the trip from Fort Hood in Texas. But the soldiers that have arrived said they're loving the new surroundings.
"It wasn't exactly what I expected at first -- coming to a base that's the home of the armor from Fort Benning which is home of the infantry. So it's a little bit different, but we're adjusting and it's pretty good. I like it," said Pvt. 2nd Class Justin Ferguson.
The activation is a big step in the base's transition to a new era. Officials said that with less than two years left in the BRAC process, Fort Knox is on track and on the rise.
"We're very fortunate in Kentucky to have Fort Knox as a real winner under the BRAC process," said state Secretary of State Trey Grayson, who was in attendance at the ceremony.
The newly-arrived soldiers have brand new facilities, including barracks, which have impressed the brigade's commander.
"The facilities that have been put here for us are state-of-the-art facilities that our soldiers and our families deserve, and it has just been a great experience," Toner said.
The other big changes at Fort Knox are still progressing as well. The centralized and consolidated Human Resource Center is under construction, and the Armor Center and School are on the way out. But that new brigade is expected to boost the Fort Knox area's total population by about 13,000 people in the next 12 months.