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FT. BRAGG STORIES: 'We Considered Ft. Bragg the Center of the Universe'

Fred Black was a second lieutenant platoon leader at Ft. Bragg in 1968.
Fred Black was a second lieutenant platoon leader at Ft. Bragg in 1968.

Retired Army Colonel Fred Black came to Fort Bragg as a second lieutenant platoon leader in 1968. He remembers the sense of pride and accomplishment among the men of the 82nd Airborne Division.

"Even in those days we considered Fort Bragg the center of the universe," Black said. "It sounds really conceited, but it was true. We were the only game in town. We were Airborne."

Back then, payday meant soldiers were handed a envelope full of cash and released to go into Fayetteville. But that much money and a few hours of freedom proved too much temptation for some troops. Black recalls serving as the company courtesy patrol officer on payday, tasked with picking up the pieces after a wild night on Hay St.

"When the bars closed, you had troops all over the place, some of whom didn't know their own names if it wasn't for the name tag," he said. "I mean, they'd blown off a lot of steam."

Fred Black remembers that payday could spark some wild nights for Ft. Bragg soldiers.

Black's story was recorded as part of the Fort Bragg Stories project, commemorating 100 years of history through personal narratives. If you have a Fort Bragg story you'd like to share, you can find out more here.

Elizabeth Friend grew up in North Carolina listening to public radio in the backseat of the family station wagon. She has been reporting and producing at WUNC since 2016, covering everything from Army history to armadillos. She's also the co-founder of the beloved summer event series Audio Under The Stars. In her spare time she enjoys exploring the outside world with her family, dabbling in esoteric crafts, and cheese.
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