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Fort Bragg History


In 1918 the Chief of Field Artillery, General William J. Snow,
seeking an area having suitable terrain, adequate water, rail
facilities, and a climate for year round training, decided that the
area now known as Fort Bragg met all of the desired criteria.
Consequently, Camp Bragg came into existence on 4 September
1918. Camp Bragg was named for a native North Carolinian, General
Braxton Bragg.
Prior to its establishment as a military reservation, the area was a
desolate region. Huge forests of long-leaf and loblolly pines covered
the sandy area. About 1729 Highland Scots began cultivating the
land in the Long Street area in what was to be the Main Post section
of Camp Bragg. At the beginning of World War I only seven percent
of the land was occupied and the population consisted of
approximately 170 families.
During the first year of its existence, $6,000,000 was spent in
purchasing land and erecting cantonments for six artillery brigades.
Although cessation of hostilities came in November 1918, work was
rapidly pushed to a conclusion and February 1, 1919, saw the
completion of Camp Bragg.
As soon as World War I was over, the artillery personnel and
materiel from Camp McClellan, Alabama were transferred to Camp
Bragg in order accommodate testing the new long range weapons
developed during the war. Because demobilization had begun, the
War Department decided to reduce the size of Camp Bragg from the
planned six to a two brigade cantonment to provide a garrison for
Regular Army units and a training center for National Guard
Artillery units. Military personnel then took over all of the work at
the Camp, a large part of which had been done by wartime civilian
employees. The year 1920 saw little military training taking place.
A large tract of land on the reservation had been set aside as a
landing field to be used in connection with observation of Field
Artillery firing. Here were stationed various aircraft and balloon
detachments to serve the Field Artillery Board. On April 1, 1919,
the landing field was named Pope Field in honor of First Lieutenant
Harley H. Pope who was killed in an airplane accident near
Fayetteville. Pilots landing at Pope Field were instructed to make
one or two low passes over the landing strip to clear it of wild deer,
so abundant were the herds of deer in the cantonment.
Early in 1921 two Field Artillery units, the 13
and 17
Artillery Brigades, began training in the camp. However, due to
post-war cutbacks, the War Department decided to abandon Camp
Bragg on August 23, 1921. This was averted by the determined
efforts of General Albert J. Bowley, Commanding General of Camp
Bragg, various civic organizations in the nearby city of Fayetteville,
and a personal inspection by the Secretary of War. The
abandonment order was rescinded on September 16, 1921.
One year later, September 30, 1922, Camp Bragg became Fort
Bragg, a permanent Army post. Under the direction of General
Bowley, development of the Fort progressed rapidly. Parade
grounds, training facilities, baseball diamonds and other athletic
facilities were constructed to lend a permanent air to Fort Bragg.
Because Fort Bragg was the only reservation in the United States
with room enough to test the latest in long range artillery weapons,
the Field Artillery Board was transferred here from Fort Sill,
Oklahoma on February 1, 1922.
From 1923 to 1926 Field Artillery regiments made considerable
progress in learning how to operate in deep sand, heavy mud,
swamps, streams and forests. For each type of Field Artillery
weapon there was an organization stationed at Fort Bragg armed
with that particular weapon. This made Fort Bragg a Field Artillery
Laboratory where every new item of Field Artillery equipment could
be given a practical field test.
From 1923 through 1927 permanent structures were erected on Fort
Bragg. Four of the brick artillery barracks, fifty-three officers
quarters, forty non-commissioned officers quarters, magazines,
motor and materiel sheds, streets and sidewalks were built. With
the planting of lawns, shrubs and trees, Fort Bragg began to take on
the appearance of one of the finest of all Army posts.
Ever aware of the need for friendly relations between the military
personnel and the surrounding civilian population, a new highway
was built connecting the center of the Post with the limits of the
reservation, making the Fort more accessible to the outside world.
1932 saw the construction of the beautiful Post Hospital, as well as
additional barracks. The additional barracks were needed due to
the arrival of the 4
Field Artillery from Camp Robinson, Arkansas
on June 9, 1931. And Fort Bragg became the headquarters for
District A of the Civilian Conservation Corps, which supervised the
work and administration of approximately thirty-three camps in the
two Carolinas during the Depression. Fort Bragg also served as a
training site for units of the National Reserve Officers Training
Corps, Officers Reserve Corps and Citizens Military Training Corps.

Major General William J. Snow

Camp Bragg completed on November 1918

Ariel of Camp Bragg, 1920

First Lieutenant Harley H. Pope

General Albert J. Bowley

240 MM Howitzer

New Artillery Brick Barracks

Post Hospital 1932

Citizens Military Training Corps

By 1940 the Post had a population of 5,400, and had settled down
into a normal peacetime army routine. However, events in Europe,
notably the defeat of France and the subjugation of most of Europe
by the Germans led to an increased need for security in the United
States. Accordingly, the first peacetime conscription for military
service was instituted.
To handle the influx of new recruits, Fort Bragg undertook an
expanded construction program in August starting with a new
Recruit Reception Center. Completed in just seventy-five days, the
Reception Center, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Earle C.
Ewert, was ready to process 1,000 men daily. This rapid rate
construction would turn Fort Bragg into one of the largest military
installations in the United States within nine months. The troops
stationed here would increase from 5,400 to 67,000 by the summer
of 1941.
More than 31,544 men were employed on Fort Bragg during this
construction period. 700 lumber mills throughout North and South
Carolina worked overtime to furnish the daily lumber requirements.
Payroll figures for one day topped out at $174,000.00 or at a rate of
$140.00 per minute! The final cost of this expansion period was
Seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day, these thousands of
men, most of whom lived within a radius of ninety miles, worked
diligently to complete each phase on or ahead of schedule. The two
railroads that serviced the Post, the Cape Fear and the Atlantic
Coast Line, delivered an average of 65 carloads of supplies daily.
For nine months workmen, interspersed crazily with soldiers in
training, pushed roads through pine forests, and erected buildings
at a rate of one every 32 minutes. This chaos was successfully
orchestrated by Commanding General Jacob L. Devers, and by
August 1941, 2,739 new buildings were in use and the Field Artillery
Replacement Center had grown to be the largest in the country.
Rivaling the Replacement Center project was the construction of
the cantonment for the Ninth Infantry Division, the largest unit at
Fort Bragg at that time. Covering approximately 500 acres, the
Division area was completed in exactly 107 days, and housed the
entire division in 623 buildings.
In support of this hospitals, chapels, libraries, exchanges and
service clubs were all built during this period. Fort Bragg contained
two laundries, a bakery with production capacity of 40,000 pounds
of bread daily, a Post Office building and three large cold storage
units. Communication facilities were established and miles of road
were built. Sewage lines and water mains were established. Power
lines and filtration plants were built.
Among units training at Fort Bragg were the 9
Infantry Division; 2d
Armored Division, 82d Airborne Division; 100
Infantry Division; the
, 22
and 34
Artillery Brigades; and various field artillery
groups of the 13
, and 22
Fort Bragg was the first installation at which paratroopers were
taught the all-around defense of objectives seized by them,
including bridgeheads, airfields and other strategic points.
The population of the post during the war years reached a peak of
159,000 personnel, requiring 10,000 pounds of food each month. By
direction of President Roosevelt in April 1942, Fort Bragg was
chosen as the site for the newly activated Airborne Ground Forces
under the command of Colonel William C. Lee. Stationed at Fort
Bragg at this time were tank units, air corps, parachute infantry,
ordnance, quartermaster, and engineers.
On March 25, 1942, the 82d Infantry Division was reactivated at
Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, with Brigadier General Omar Bradley as
commanding general and Brigadier General Matthew B. Ridgway as
assistant commander. On August 15, 1942, with Major General
Matthew B. Ridgway commanding, the 82d Infantry Division, which
had moved to Fort Bragg, was designated the 82d Airborne Division.
The 101
Airborne Division was reactivated at Camp Claiborne,
Louisiana on August 16, 1942 and half of the personnel of the 82d
Airborne Division became the nucleus of the new 101
Division when it moved to Fort Bragg in October.
The first WAAC unit came to Fort Bragg on January 24, 1943. The
Womens Army Auxiliary Corps took up duties in numerous
offices throughout the post, releasing many men holding non-
combatant duties for field service.
A milestone in the progress of Airborne tactics was reached at Fort
Bragg in early April 1943, when the 505
Parachute Infantry
Regiment, commanded by Colonel James M. Gavin, made the first
complete regimental jump in United States history. Over 2,000 men
participated in the achievement. Among those jumping was Major
General Matthew B. Ridgway, 82d Division Commander.
Large numbers of German POWs came to Fort Bragg when a camp
was established in May, 1944. A small number had come as early as
1942, but had been transferred out. The prisoners were put to work
in jobs similar to their civilian skills and were paid 80 cents a day.
Throughout the war years, Pope Army Air Field at Fort Bragg was
used primarily as a troop carrier training establishment. Extensive
glider training and large scale paratroop maneuvers were the major
operations. During the war, Pope became one of the few bases in
the Army Air Corps to have contact with the enemy off our own
shores. A squadron of A-20s from Pope located and sank the first
German submarine off the shores of the United States.
Following WW II, Fort Bragg was again under scrutiny by the United
States government for retention as a permanent post. In a study
conducted by the War Department, it was reported that since July,
1940 the cost of Fort Bragg, including land and construction totaled
$55,807,000. The study concluded that Fort Bragg was quite
satisfactory for post war retention, and on January 19, 1946, the
82d Airborne Division returned from Europe and took up its station
at Fort Bragg. This would be the first time an airborne unit was
permanently stationed here.

Recruits Inprocessing at Fort Bragg

Fort Bragg 1941

Over 31,544 Civilian Workers

9th Infantry Division Area

Major General Matthew B. Ridgway

Airborne Training Fort Bragg

Major General James M. Gavin

German Submarine

Colonel William C. Lee

Women's Army Auxiliary Corps

The Returning 82d Airborne Division
Marching in the New York Victory Parade

German Prisoners of War

From 1946 until the outbreak of the Korean Conflict in 1950, the
82d Airborne Division was the only large unit on the post. Much of
the post would remain in mothballs with the troops only occupying
a small portion.
Headquarters, V United States Army Corps came to Fort Bragg in
1946. During the summer months V Corps and the 82d Airborne
Division furnished training and instruction to personnel of the
National Guards 30
Infantry Division.
From 1946 to 1951, housing was extremely scarce in the Fort Bragg-
Fayetteville area. Because of this, many of the unused barracks and
hospital wards were converted into temporary family quarters.
Family quarters were also found in the Smoke Bomb Hill area, and
the Butner Hospital area. A large trailer court was established on
Reilly Road near Pope Air Force Base. Due to the shortage of
housing in the area, reenlistment on the post sank to a very low
level. Under the Wherry Act, commercial enterprise built a large
housing area in 1950 and 1951 in what is now known as Corregidor
Courts and Anzio Acres. This considerably relieved the housing
When hostilities erupted in Korea in June, 1950, Fort Bragg again
assumed an outstanding role in the National Defense Program.
Thousands of inductees, and members of the National Guard and
Army Reserve, were called to active duty and trained at Fort Bragg.
In July 1951, Headquarters, V Corps was transferred to Germany.
The XVIII Airborne Corps under Lieutenant General John W. Leonard
was reactivated at Fort Bragg on May 21, 1951. With the
headquarters of the XVIII Airborne Corps and the 82d Airborne
Division and other units stationed here, Fort Bragg became widely
known as the home of the airborne.
The Lee Field House was dedicated on May 14, 1951 in honor of
Major General William C. Lee, who was known as the Father of the
Airborne, and who was a former commander of the 101
In October 1951, the 11
Airborne Division was attached to the XVIII
Airborne Corps. The Division was commanded by Major General L.L.
Lieutenant General John W. Leonard, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort
Bragg Commander, retired in January 1952. Major General Thomas
F. Hickey assumed command, becoming the first Airborne officer to
command Fort Bragg.
The Psychological Warfare Center was established at Fort Bragg on
April 10, 1952. Its mission was to conduct individual training and to
supervise unit training in psychological warfare and Special Forces
The 10
Special Forces Group, the Armys first unconventional
warfare unit, was activated on June 20, 1952, here at Fort Bragg.
Also in 1952, Fort Bragg established its own airfield. Air traffic
around post had increased to the point where Pope Field was
overtaxed. The 406
Engineer Brigade was called upon to construct
the airfield. The field was formally named in 1955 for Warrant
Officer Herbert W. Simmons, Jr.
Womack Army Hospital was constructed at the post during the
1957-58 period. The new hospital consisted of 500 beds with an
expansion capability to 1,000. The hospital was named after a
medical corpsman from North Carolina who gave his life in the
Korean Conflict to protect the lives of wounded soldiers in his care.
Additional construction at the post during the 1950s included an
entirely new division-sized barracks area, two drive-in restaurants,
a bank, an NCO club for the 82d Airborne, four new elementary
schools, two football stadiums, and several swimming pools.
Capehart type construction during the mid-1950s added many more
housing units to the post and it became possible to close up the
converted barracks quarters.

82d Airborne Division

Lee Field House

Major General Thomas F. Hickey

Dedication ceremony for Simmons Army

Private First Class Brian C. Womack

New 82d Airborne Division Headquarters

In 1961, one of the major events of the early sixties occurred with
the activation of the 5
Special Forces Group (Airborne). This unit
was given the mission of training personnel in counterinsurgency for
deployment in Southeast Asia in the Republic of South Vietnam.
Thus Fort Bragg was in the forefront of the US involvement in the
war in Vietnam.
September 23, 1961 saw the sculptress, Mrs. Leah Hiebert, wife of
a former deputy post chaplain, dedicate her statue of "Iron Mike"
the airborne soldier. The fifteen-foot bronze statue, mounted upon
a twelve-foot pyramid, would guard the southern entrance to Fort
Bragg at the intersection of Knox Street and Bragg Boulevard.
On July 11, 1963, Major General William C. Westmoreland arrived
to take command of Fort Bragg. Shortly after his arrival, he
received his third star. He replaced Lieutenant General Hamilton H.
Howze, who had been the Armys top commander in Korea.
In November 1963, Mrs. John F. Kennedy requested Special Forces
soldiers for participation in her husbands funeral. Forty-six Special
Forces soldiers from Fort Bragg were dispatched to Washington, DC
to help bury the President.
The Third US Army Intelligence School, located at Fort Bragg,
concluded its 16
year of operation in August. The 519th Military
Intelligence Battalion administered the school.
On March 2, 1964, Lieutenant General J.W. Bowen replaced LG
William C. Westmoreland as Commander of XVIII Airborne Corps and
Fort Bragg. General Westmoreland became Deputy chief and later
Chief of US Forces in Vietnam.
Also in 1964, Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, announced
that the Special Warfare Center had been officially named for the
late President, John F. Kennedy.
In December 1964, Captain Hugh Donlon, 7
Special Forces Group
(Airborne), became the first American Soldier to be awarded the
Medal of Honor for Vietnam. President Lyndon B. Johnson presented
the medal to Captain Donlon.
The 82d Airborne Divison remembered one of its Medal of Honor
recipients, Sergeant Alvin C. York, when 103 All American soldiers
were airlifted from Fort Bragg to help bury this World War I hero
who passed away on September 2, 1964.
1965 was the largest year of construction at Fort Bragg since the
mid-fifties. $14,877,409 in construction contracts were let and
much of it went into the new Special Warfare Complex. The
headquarters and academic building were completed in early 1965
and dedicated by Senator Robert F. Kennedy on May 29, 1965. And,
perhaps the most visible representation of the Special Forces, the
bronze statue of a Special Forces Soldier, would be erected on
Ardennes Street in 1968.
In March 1967, Lieutenant General John L. Throckmorton became
Commander of Fort Bragg, replacing Lieutenant General Bruce
Palmer, Jr. In August General Throckmorton became Commanding
General of the Third US Army, and was replaced as the Fort Bragg
Commander by Lieutenant General Robert H. York.
In August 1967, the 82d Airborne Division celebrated its
Anniversary as an Airborne Division, and its 50
Anniversary as
an Infantry Division.
1967 also saw ground broken for the John F. Kennedy Special
Warfare Memorial, while troops from Fort Bragg were dispatched to
Detroit to suppress riots and the Congo to help rescue civilians
being held hostage.
Thus the sixties era would draw to a close with Fort Bragg living up
to a quote from President John F. Kennedy: "We shall pay any
price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend,
oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty".

Training for Vietnam

Sculptress Leah Hiebert

LTG William C. Westmoreland

CPT Hugh Donlon

Alvin C. York

Special Forces Soldier Statue

John F. Kennedy

The seventies era would find Fort Bragg drawing down the number
of troops being sent to the waning Vietnam War. 1972 marked the
end of the draft and the beginning of the Volunteer Army.
Fort Bragg became home to the 1
Corps Support Command
(COSCOM) in June of 1972 when it assumed the role of the
deactivated 12
Support Brigade. COSCOM also willingly inherited
the 12
Support Brigade's mascot, Blackjack, the mule. Blackjack
frequently received callers at his quarters in the Fort Bragg Riding
To accommodate the "volunteer" soldiers and their families, new
construction would be earmarked for family housing and community
support. The Main Post Commissary was constructed in 1974 while
the Ardennes, Biazza Ridge and Bataan Family Housing areas were
built in 1975. And trips between Fort Bragg and downtown
Fayetteville became easier with the opening of the All American
Fort Bragg was also becoming a fun place for a kid to live with the
Youth Activities Center, the Main Post Bowling Lanes, the Cleland
Ice Skating Rink and an outdoor pool on Ardennes Street.
Fort Bragg, like any other Army post of the time, was forced to deal
with problems created by the Vietnam War. Foremost of these was
the prevalence of drug use among the returning troops. LTG Henry
Everett Emerson, nicknamed "Gunfighter", stringently complied
with the Army policy of scheduled and random drug screenings.
General Emerson even went a step farther and instituted the TIP
(Turn-in-a-Pusher) Program. General Emerson also worked hard on
whipping the Fort Bragg volunteers into better physical shape with
a rigorous PT program.
Lieutenant General Volney Warner closed the decade with his
personal attention to giving a fair hearing to all the residents of
Fort Bragg. He created the Lady Mayors of Fort Bragg, initiated the
Dial-6 BOSS program, and set up voting districts for the military and
wives to be elected rather than appointed to the Board of
Education. Due to an unfortunate incident of vandalism, General
Warner also ordered the removal of the Iron Mike statue from the
intersection of Knox Street and Bragg Boulevard to its present
location on main post.

Volunteer Army


New Commissary

LTG Henry Everett Emerson

LTG Volney Warner

Iron Mike on Bragg Boulevard

By 1989 Fort Bragg would employ 40,000 soldiers and more than
8,000 civilians on its 140,618 acres. It is during this era that Fort
Bragg earned its reputation as one of the Army's premier power
projection platforms.
Beginning in 1983 with the 82d Airborne Division's successful no-
notice deployment of two brigade-sized elements to Grenada, Fort
Bragg was instrumental in rescuing American citizens and defeating,
yet again, Communist aggression in the Caribbean.
As a show of force and to conduct stability operations, the 82d
Airborne Division was sent to Honduras in 1988 for Operation
Golden Pheasant, and in 1989 to Panama for Operation Nimrod
Humanitarian/Disaster relief operations would be Fort Bragg's focus
in September 1989 as XVIII Airborne Corps soldiers assisted St Croix
in the US Virgin Islands after the devastation of Hurricane Hugo.
Even with so many of its troops on constant deployment, the post
would not be idle. Fort Bragg would pick up the pace of
construction to make the soldiers and their families proud to be
stationed here.
The Albritton Junior High School was completed in 1983, followed
by the Fernandez and Rodriquez Child Development Centers in
1985. In 1987 Gavin Hall was built to house the 82d Airborne
Division Administration and the Division itself moved into Ridgway
Hall. The Ritz-Epps state-of-the-art Gym began keeping the
Division's soldiers in top physical shape in 1987 as well.
The 5
Special Forces group departed Fort Bragg for Fort Campbell,
Kentucky in 1986, while the 7
Special Forces Group moved into
new quarters off Yadkin Road in 1989.
This era would not end on a quiet note. In December 1989 Fort
Bragg once again threw itself whole-heartedly into deploying the
82d Airborne Division to Panama for Operation Just Cause. It was
with justifiable pride that the Post learned of the Division's
successful combat jump into Panama--its first since World War II.

Paratrooper in Grenada

Ridgway Hall

Hurricane Hugo

Special Forces Solider

82d Airborne Paratrooper

The last decade of the 20
century found Fort Bragg engaged in
repeated power projection efforts. To counter Iraqi aggression in
Southwest Asia, Fort Bragg worked around the clock to deploy XVIII
Airborne Corps. The August 1990 success of speeding Corps troops
to Saudi Arabia to "draw the line in the sand" was bittersweet as
Fort Bragg assumed an eerie ghost town appearance with minimum
personnel left behind.
The Post had hardly had time to enjoy the victory in the desert
when a natural disaster galvanized the community in helping Corps
soldiers help the world. In August 1992, Hurricane Andrew struck
southern Florida and Fort Bragg helped rush Corps troops to the
scene to provide humanitarian assistance.
Tragedy would draw Fort Bragg even closer to Fayetteville and the
surrounding civilian communities. On March 23, 1994, while
attempting to land at Pope Air Force Base, an F-16 fighter collided
in mid-air with a C-130 cargo plane forcing the pilot and passenger
to eject. The fighter then went on to collide with a C-141 on the
tarmac. The resulting explosion and fireball killed twenty-four
soldiers and wounded one hundred others as they waited at Green
Ramp to board planes for a training jump. Fort Bragg immediately
went into high gear to treat the wounded and notify the families.
Fayetteville also extended a generous helping hand to the shocked
and grieving soldiers and their families.
Fort Bragg helped launch the largest airborne operation since World
War II in September 1994. 3,800 paratroopers from the 82d
Airborne Division were deployed to Haiti to reinstate the duly
elected President, Jean Aristide. In deference to the fierce fighting
reputation of the All Americans, the de facto government agreed to
terms rather than be on the receiving end of the air drop.
The heightened OPTEMPO of the nineties exposed certain
inefficiencies in the way Fort Bragg conducted business. This was
corrected in 1996 with a major reorganization of the Garrison into
five Business Centers. By 1997 the Readiness Business Center, the
Installation Business Office, the Information Technology Business
Center, the Community Activities and Services Business Center, the
Public Works Business Center and the Public Safety Business Center
were fully operational and ready to meet the challenge of housing
and deploying America's contingency force.
The Fort Bragg would devote all of its efforts in the waning years of
the 1990s to smoothing the transition to the twenty-first century.
With the changing mission of the United States Army the Post
eagerly concentrated on improving the quality of life for its soldiers
and families, serving as an environmental steward for its increased
acreage and serving as the premier power projection platform of
America's elite soldiers.
Many veterans returning to Fort Bragg during this era were
dismayed to find most of their World War II wooden barracks gone.
In an effort to improve the quality of life for the twenty-first
century soldier, Fort Bragg aggressively pursued a barracks
construction/renovation program.
The modernization of Fort Bragg began quietly in 1990 with a new
Main Post Exchange and would accelerate throughout the decade to
include the Devers Elementary School and the Prager and Cook
Child Development Centers in 1994. The Post became more
accessible in 1997 with the All American Expressway expansion from
Reilly to Longstreet. And for those readers on Post, the opening of
the new Throckmorton Library was also a welcome event.
For those living on Fort Bragg during 1998, it was hard to find one
area of Post that wasn't undergoing change. From the removal of
wooden barracks to building construction/renovation through
expansion of training areas into the newly purchased Overhills site,
Fort Bragg would close out this century with a fresh appearance and
a firm resolve to meet the next century with equal drive.

Desert Storm Soldier

Homestead Air Force Base, FL

Accident at Pope Air Force Base

President Jean Aristide

Unveiling of New Business Center

Holland Barracks

New Mail Post Exchange

"Iron Mike", The Airborne Trooper Statue