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Fort Bragg At 100: A Live Storytelling Event

Retired Army combat medic Kelly Rodriguez talks about the mixed emotions she felt when her son joined the Army and left on his first deployment.
Elizabeth Friend
Retired Army combat medic Kelly Rodriguez talks about the mixed emotions she felt when her son joined the Army and left on his first deployment.

As part of Fort Bragg's 100 anniversary commemoration, WUNC hosted an hour of storytelling about life on and around the nation's largest Army base.

One hundred years ago, the U.S. Army established Camp Bragg in the forests of the North Carolina sandhills. It was a primitive training ground where artillery soldiers prepared to fight World War I.

In 1922, Fort Bragg was designated as a permanent Army post. In the decades since, it's grown to become the largest military installation in the country.

To mark a century of history at Fort Bragg, WUNC and the Fayetteville Observer are partnering on a year-long series sharing personal stories from soldiers, veterans, and community members.

Over the next hour we'll hear four stories recorded before a live audience at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in downtown Fayetteville.

Fort Bragg Stories is a production of WUNC's American Homefront Project, a national reporting initiative about the lives of military personnel and veterans.

It's made possible through support from our listeners and from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The Storytellers

Joanna Nunez, a professional counselor who specializes in helping soldiers and their family members deal with post-traumatic stress disorder. Still, it took years to realize her own father, a Vietnam veteran, was suffering from PTSD as well.

Jay Huwieler, who served 11 years in the Army as a linguist and paratrooper. He spent five years at Fort Bragg, before leaving active duty earlier this year. Communications played a major role throughout his career, but one phone call in particular changed his life.

Kelly Rodriguez recently retired after a 21 year military career. As an Army combat medic, she deployed multiple times to Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. She's also the wife of a retired Special Forces Green Beret and the mother of three sons, including an Infantryman in the 82nd Airborne. And she's the Director of Operations for the Global War on Terror Memorial Foundation.

Retired Major Ivan Castro enlisted in the Army in 1988 and served 28 years. On September 2, 2006, he was gravely injured in Iraq when a mortar landed just a few feet away from him. The attack took the lives of two men in his unit and left Major Castro completely blind. It also started him down a road of recovery.

We'll continue to broadcast Fort Bragg Stories every Sunday evening throughout 2018 at around 5:35 p.m. during All Things Considered. The stories also will appear each Sunday in print and online in the Fayetteville Observer. 

If you have a Fort Bragg Story to share, we'd like to hear it. You can reach out to us here.

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