FORT KNOX, Ky. — Over 100 current and former tankers along with other community members gathered at Waybur Theater Aug. 22 to witness the end of more than 70 years of Marine Corps history here.Former Marines and Sailors from Company E, 4th Tank Battalion, joined the reserve and active duty Marines assigned to the unit to witness its deactivation, which heralded the final chapter of tanks stationed at Fort Knox as well as the downsizing of armored assets in the Marine Corps.After about 20 minutes, the unit’s commander, Capt. James Maly, called members of his unit who stood on the stage to attention. Marines in the audience also stood. The unit’s senior noncommissioned officer, 1st Sgt. Kevin Bibb, took the guidon from Cpl. Joseph Logsdon, carried it across the stage and slowly guided the metal pole tip to the opening of the stanchion before slamming it into the base.With a loud clank, Echo Company was officially deactivated.“It takes a unique type of individual to wear this uniform,” said Lt. Col. Michael O’Quin, commander of 4th Tank Battalion at the ceremony. “The Marines of Echo Company have trained hard and endured much to become masters of their tanks, but the Marine Corps is evolving.”Maly explained what has changed at the Marine Corps to close its chapter on tanks.“The commandant [Gen. David Berger’s] guidance and his future vision is bringing the Marine Corps back down to a more dynamic, lighter force as we look toward our next war,” said Maly. “The understanding is that that’s more than likely focused back toward the Pacific— back toward our amphibious roots. The tank doesn’t fit in that vision.”Maly said the M1A1 Abrams tanks and artillery armaments that have been a part of unit’s history will soon be divested and shipped to other destinations. As well, several members of the unit have begun the process of changing jobs and moving to other areas.While the unit has ended and many reservists and active duty Marines prepare to move away, said Maly, a Marine presence should remain at Fort Knox although what it looks like remains a mystery.“We’re losing the unit overall — there’ll be nothing left in Kentucky in the Marine Corps Reserve once we leave,” said Maly. “There is a plan, though, to go and repurpose what we currently have over at Howder Hall, and put another unit there.”Maly said the day represented a difficult moment for more than just the tankers of Company E, as the theater filled up to capacity to witness the historic moment.“They’re a bunch of Kentucky boys who love what they do, they’re hard workers; all of them love tanks,” said Maly. “But we also have 40 or 50 years of tankers out of Company E showing up here, and they all love tanks regardless of what platform they were on. It’s also sad seeing the last tanks of Fort Knox leaving the home of armor.”Master Sgt. Jaime Palomo, inspector instructor at the unit and the acting first sergeant, said he too is sad to see the tanks leave.“I will definitely miss the tanks,” said Palomo. “That’s pretty much all I’ve known my entire career, and I’ve deployed multiple times on them. You grow to love the beast.”Many of the Marines will reclassify over to infantry or light artillery, according to Maly. Palomo said they will succeed no matter what they do.“The mission of the Marine Corps is to create great citizens,” said Palomo. “As tanker Marines, we’re going to have that adaptability to complete the Marine Corps mission, whatever it ends up being. The ultimate mission is being a Marine.“We’ll succeed anywhere.”