JBLM's 4th Stryker Brigade is no more

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Joint Base Lewis-McChord has officially lost one of its 4,000-member combat units. The 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team officially de-activated Friday in a big ceremony. The surrounding communities hate to see the loss of soldiers and their families.

The brigade's eight years of service opened with a bang in 2006 when the 4th was tapped to be part of the president's "surge" in Iraq. The unit was there when the fighting was at its height and two years later returned to see the fighting come to an end as the last combat troops out. A year ago, the 4th Strykers fought in Afghanistan, and 55 soldiers were lost in combat over the three tours.

"Today is a very bittersweet day as we celebrate the accomplishments to this great brigade and pay tribute to the Raider soldiers of past and present," said Brigade commander Col. Jody Miller.

The Army is shutting it down, casing the flags and sending the combat role to a new unit at Fort Carson, Colorado.

Maj. Gen. Terry Ferrell of the 7th Infantry Division told the crowd, "Look, today is a great day and I know the mood in the room, the inactivation... But today is a day of celebration."

But for the surrounding communities where these soldiers live with their families, there's a lot of sadness. Those cities depend heavily on the military families for friendship and the money they spend.

"It's a big impact on our city because it's going to take away a lot of our revenue because they do live, work and play in our community, so we're really going to miss them," said Mary Moss of the Lakewood City Council.

Col. Miller responded, "We absolutely love and cherish our communities and we'll miss them just as much as they'll miss us."

Even though the brigade is going away, many of the soldiers are staying. About half are being shifted to other units at JBLM.

Overall, the Army is down-sizing at JBLM about 3,000 soldiers from its high mark when combat was going strong on two fronts.