At the sound of a cannon, the 1st U.S. Army headquarters company at Fort Meade will strike its flag today and head south, breaking the post's strongest link to the days when Dwight D. Eisenhower and George S. Patton trained there.
"It's an end of an era," said Col. Gorham L. Black III, retired Fort Meade commander. "It's the last of the combat mission. . . . They're going to be missed at Fort Meade."
Fort Meade, the country's premier armor training ground during the world wars, has become a federal office park as a result of Pentagon's effort to save money by closing some bases and re-aligning others.
Today the only tanks to be found are the ones in the base museum. Most of the 8,100 acres of training grounds have been given to the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.
After the ceremony, the company will take its flag to Fort Gillem, Ga., where it will be raised tomorrow as 1st and 2nd Army headquarters are merged. The 1st Army headquarters directed the training of about half the country's 628,000 Army reserve and national guard members.
What will remain of the 1st Army at Fort Meade is a satellite command and its building, Pershing Hall, named after the 1st Army's first commander, Gen. John J. Pershing. The command will continue to advise the Fort Meade garrison, and other agencies will move into Pershing Hall.