Fort Bragg

Fort Bragg provides an ideal environment for the St. Francis Satry, a critically endangered species of butterfly.
Courtesy of Nick Haddad

Of all federal agencies, the Department of Defense manages the highest density of threatened and endangered species, more than even the National Park Service. The special relationship between the Pentagon and environmentalist organizations originates at Fort Bragg.

Public Domain / Airman Magazine

A memorial service today at Fort Bragg makes 25 years since the 82nd Airborne Division suffered its biggest one-day loss of life since World War II.

The disaster occurred at literally, the last place paratroopers were able to feel safe before boarding a plane for a practice jump, or deploying to war – the loading ramp at the Fort Bragg airfield.

A Soldier from the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment clears a building in Afghanistan in this 2010 file photo. A unit from the Regiment will reunite in 2019 for mental health treatment.
Christine Jones / U.S. Army

The VA and a Charlotte-based non-profit have teamed up to try a new approach to mental health treatment for veterans. They're reuniting entire units for therapy in a pilot program called Operation Resiliency.

Fort Bragg Combat Advisor patch
Jay Price / WUNC

Fort Bragg activated two new units Thursday that are made up of a new kind of culturally-aware soldiers who will be doing an old job: advising the forces of U.S. allies.

An image of a sign for Fort Bragg
Fish Cop / Public Domain

The Pentagon has released the names of three U.S. servicemen killed Tuesday by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.

They are Army Capt. Andrew Patrick Ross, age 29, of Lexington, Virginia; Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric Michael Emond, age 39, of Brush Prairie, Washington; and Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan J. Elchin, age 25, of Hookstown, Pennsylvania.

courtesy of Alfredo Hurtado

When Alfredo Hurtado signed up to become a member of an Army military police unit, he figured he would be eating donuts and sitting in cars all day. Then the Sept. 11 attacks happened. Hurtado found himself guarding the twisted, dark corridors of the Pentagon, then detaining prisoners in Afghanistan. On his next deployment, to Iraq, his convoy hit an improvised explosive device that left Hurtado injured and in pain. 

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 / WUNC

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.

FT. BRAGG STORIES: 'Not A Shrinking Violet'

Feb 18, 2018
Portrait of Christina Railey, circa 1975.
Courtesy Patrick Railey

Patrick Railey was nine years old in 1970 when his father was killed in Vietnam. On the same day Chief Warrant Officer George Railey was fatally wounded, Patrick, his sister, and his mother were moving from Florida to their new house near Fort Bragg.

"I remember the scene of a military vehicle pulling up, well-dressed soldiers getting out and coming up to the house," Railey recalled. "You always knew that was bad news. You didn't want that to be your family."

Portrait of CPT. Kenisha Wilkerson
Matt Couch / WUNC

Kenisha Wilkerson was drawn to military service, despite some initial uncertainty.

"I was a little confused at first," said Wilkerson. "I was going back and forth, like, 'uhh, I might not be built for the Army.' But I knew I wanted to serve."

Billy (left) and his brother Dewey, playing soldiers as children at Fort Bragg during World War II.
Courtesy Billy Herring

Billy Herring was seven years old when his family moved on to Fort Bragg in 1939, one of only three civilian families on post at the time. His father ran the dairy farm, supplying milk to the soldiers.

Lorie Southerland, with her husband Eric, at the opening of the new Fort Bragg Fisher House facility.
Keri Childress/Fort Bragg Fisher House

Lorie Southerland didn’t know the Fort Bragg Fisher House existed until the day she needed it.  

Her son, Spc. Michael Rodriguez, had just been killed in Iraq, and her out-of-town family needed somewhere to stay for his memorial service.  Fisher House opened its doors, as it has for hundreds of other military families, offering respite when loved ones come to Fort Bragg for medical treatment, or to mourn.

Portrait of Col. (Ret.) Fred Black
Courtesy of Fred Black

As a young lieutenant in 1969, Fred Black was one of a handful of African-American officers at Fort Bragg. He said racial tensions rarely came to a head on post, but black soldiers could face discrimination when they ventured into the wider community.

Portrait of Mike Thomas.
Matt Couch / WUNC

Mike Thomas was a young captain in the summer of 1990 when he got orders to deploy to Saudi Arabia as part of Operation Desert Shield. After spending nine months in the Gulf, he flew home to Fort Bragg.

An image of a sign for Fort Bragg
Fish Cop / Public Domain

New Pentagon data shows that reports of sexual assault jumped 28 percent in just one year at Fort Bragg. But a base spokesman says that’s because more soldiers are reporting assaults that happened in previous years.

On Veterans Day, WUNC presents stories recorded during a live storytelling event at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, NC.  The hour long broadcast is hosted by Eric Hodge. Hear these stories Saturday, November 11 at 2 p.m. on North Carolina Public Radio.

Over the hour you'll hear from active duty soldiers and veterans who share their Ft. Bragg Stories. You can listen to the broadcast online, too:

Ft Bragg Stories A mixed 'chalk' of U.S. and British paratroopers line up to board a C-130 transport plane for the main jump of the joint exercise.
Jay Price / North Carolina Public Radio - WUNC

North Carolina is home to the largest U.S. military installation in the world by population. It employs more than 50,000 military and close to 30,000 civilians and contributes tens of billions of dollars to the state’s economy.

PONCE, PUERTO RICO -  North Carolina National Guard SSG Joe Rodriguez carries donated water and MRE's for Nani Soto in a distribution center in a sports arena in the Southern town of Ponce, the 2nd largest city in Puerto Rico, on October 20, 2017.
Angel Valentin / For WUNC

It has been more than five weeks since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. Close to three-quarters of residents on the island are still without power. Many also still do not have access to food or safe drinking water. 

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.

An image of a sign for Fort Bragg
Fish Cop / Public Domain

More than 2,000 soldiers are deploying from Fort Bragg to Afghanistan, joining 1,500 soldiers sent there earlier this year.

An image of a sign for Fort Bragg
Fish Cop / Public Domain

Three soldiers remain hospitalized after last week's deadly training accident at Fort Bragg.

An image of a sign for Fort Bragg
Fish Cop / Public Domain

Updated 2:28 p.m., Sept. 15, 2017

A soldier killed in a demolition accident was training to become a Green Beret experienced in handling explosives.

Paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division jump from a C-17 aircraft during a July training exercise at Fort Bragg.
Matt Couch / WUNC

The Fort Bragg division is best known for its parachute jumps in World War II. Today, its specialty is rapid deployments - with or without parachutes.

Rashmi Patel is at the wheel of an electric-powered shuttle, one of the Army's two first autonomous vehicles, at Fort Bragg.
Jay Price / WUNC

Rashmi Patel is at the wheel of an electric-powered shuttle, but not for long. The vehicle is one of two shuttles making history at Fort Bragg as one of the Army’s first autonomous vehicles.

An image of an NSCU biology professor holding a St. Francis satyr butterfly
Jay Price

Note: this program is a rebroadcast from August 17, 2016.

For years, the Pentagon has partnered with conservation groups to protect hundreds of endangered and threatened species on military bases across the country.

The partnership started at Fort Bragg in North Carolina in the early 1990s after a rare woodpecker was found and halted training on parts of the base. Since then, the military and conservationists have worked together to manage the bases' rich ecosystems.

Medics in training at Fort Bragg
Sgt. April de Armas/82nd CAB, Fort Bragg

Fort Bragg is now using its own medical evacuation teams to move injured soldiers to major hospitals. 

The Army base used to rely on helicopters from Duke and UNC Hospitals to transport soldiers who were seriously injured during training exercises, but since the troop drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan, more of the 82nd Airborne's Medevac teams are on the base.

a photo of an aedes aegypi mosquito
James Gathany / Flickr Creative Commons

A spokeswoman at Fort Bragg says there have been five travel-related cases of the Zika virus confirmed since June at the North Carolina Army post.

St. Francis' satyr butterly
Jay Price / WUNC

The U.S. military has joined forces with environmental groups to preserve natural habitats. More than 400 threatened and endangered species are benefiting, and so is the Pentagon. 

Performance Psychologist Meghan Halbrook of Fort Bragg’s Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Center shows a soldier how to use an ear sensor to monitor his stress level as he rests between sessions of machine gun training.
Jay Price / WUNC

With biofeedback, breath control, and other mindfulness techniques, an Army unit hopes to help turn its paratroopers into more effective fighters.

MLB's before and after images for the Fort Bragg Game
Major League Baseball / Fort Bragg

A few remaining tickets are available for a Major League Baseball game at Fort Bragg, but only to people holding military IDs.

Most of the tickets for the game between the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins have already been given away to troops and their families.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attracted thousands of supporters to a rally in Fayetteville.
Jay Price / WUNC

Days ahead of North Carolina's primary, Republican front-runner Donald Trump led a boisterous rally in Fayetteville.

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