FT. BRAGG STORIES: 'They Don't Tell You Much'
Debbie Crain and Laura Lauffer both grew up near Fort Bragg, both with fathers in the military. Crain's father fought in World War II, Lauffer's served in Vietnam. Like many who have seen combat, neither man talked much about their experiences. As adults, both women found themselves looking for answers about their fathers' military service.
"I knew that he had jumped in to Normandy and Sainte Mère Eglise," said Crain, "But as far as specifics, I never knew specifics."
For Crain, the movie Saving Private Ryan was a window into her father's world.
"I started crying the moment that movie started because it really hit home what my daddy did, where he was, and how lucky I was that he came back home," she said.
Debbie's father, Monnie Sanders, lives in South Carolina, aged 93. She said it's only in recent years that he has begun to talk about what he lived through.
For Laura Lauffer, much of her father's military career remains a mystery. Richard Warren was assigned to the Special Forces. He died in 2005, leaving her to piece together details of his five Vietnam-era deployments.
"You don't know much," said Lauffer. "They don't really tell you much."
"It wasn't really until he died that all these men told these great stories about him. I just don't know much about it. It was amazing to me that he had done five tours. It was a really important part of his life and I think he saw it as the best part of his life."
The Ft. Bragg Stories series is a collaboration between the Fayetteville Observer and WUNC's American Homefront Project to commemorate a century of history at Fort Bragg through personal narratives. You can hear other stories in the series here. If you'd like to share your Fort Bragg story, you can send it here, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: A photo caption in this story was corrected. Lauffer's father was pictured on the right in a photo, not on the left. This story was also corrected to reflect the name of Crain's father. His name is Monnie Sanders not Lonnie Sanders.