Camp Mackall is an active US Army training facility located in northern Scotland County and Richmond County, North Carolina. It’s just south of Southern Pines and is close to Fort Bragg, which is home to the XVIII Airborne Corps, US Army Special Operations Command Headquarters and 82nd Airborne Division. Troops training to become a member of the US Army Special Forces go to Camp Mackall for SERE training. SERE stands for survival, evasion, resistance and escape. In addition, Special Forces Assessment and Special Forces Qualification Course are also taken at Camp Mackall. The history of Camp Mackall starts before World War II.
Camp Mackall was originally called Camp Hoffman and was built on February 8th, 1943. However, it was renamed in honor of Private John Thomas Mackall who was born in 1920 in Ohio and grew in Wellsville. He served in Company E, 2nd Battalion in the 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment and was involved in the Allied invasion of North Africa in the airborne attack called Operation Torch.
Camp Mackall spanned 62,000 acres and contained 65 miles of paved roads as well as a 1,200 bed hospital, five movie theaters, six beer gardens, all-weather airfield and three 5,000-foot runways. The camp originally had 1,750 buildings. All of these were built in just four months.
The camp’s history is closely tied to nearby Fort Bragg, which is located just west of Fayetteville, North Carolina. Camp Bragg was founded in 1918 as the Army looked to expand in need of field artillery training compounds to prepare for the first World War. The area in North Carolina greatly suited these needs because the climate was good for year-round training and was close to ports and rail transportation.
Camp Bragg formed out of 127,000 acres of sand hills and pine trees. It was named for Confederate General Braxton Bragg who was a former artillery officer originally born in North Carolina. Eventually, Camp Bragg would be known for its airborne division, which was established in 1934 and was also the site of the first parachute jump. It wouldn’t be until 1954 when Camp Bragg would be an airborne training site. Camp Bragg would transform into Fort Bragg by 1922.
Over the years, Fort Bragg continued to grow and reached 5,400 soldiers by 1940. As World War II threatened America, a reception station was built at Fort Bragg and became home to 67,000 soldiers in just one year. The first airborne units started training in 1942 in preparation for combat. There were five World War II airborne divisions stationed here including the 82nd, 13th, 101st, 11th and 17th. They were all trained at the Fort Bragg-Camp Mackall compound.
The Psychological Warfare Center now known as US Army Special Operations Command was also created in 1952 at Fort Bragg, which is the same year that it became the headquarters for special forces soldiers. Over 200,000 soldiers went through combat training during the years 1966 through 1970. At the height of Vietnam War in 1968, the military population went up to 57,840.
Fort Bragg one of the biggest military complexes on the planet and hosts the only airborne corps and airborne division known as the Green Berets. It also houses the Army’s biggest support command known as the 82nd Airborne Division. At Fort Bragg, they make 100,000 parachute jumps each year.
Fort Bragg spans across 160,700 acres or 251 square miles. The compound is so large that it touches four counties with Camp Mackall covering another three counties. The compound includes seven big drop zones, four impact areas, 82 ranges, 16 live fire maneuver areas and Army airfields.
Fort Bragg houses the Army, and it’s the biggest Army installation on the planet housing 10 percent of the Army’s forces including 55,000 military and 8,000 civilian personnel who work there. All types of employment can be found here ranging from attorneys to engineers. The fort also includes ranges, deployment and training areas.
Many of the units stationed at Fort Bragg complete training at nearby Camp Mackall. The camp is used mainly for the Colonel James “Nick” Rowe Training Compound that hosts SERE, SFAS and Q course as well as other special forces training courses. The name comes from Colonel James N. Rowe. His name is also designated to the hardest obstacle course at the camp called “Nasty Nick.” Many have said it is the hardest obstacle course to complete in the entire Army.
Fort Bragg is known as the home of the airborne. The XVIII Airborne Contingency Corps stands as the sole airborne defense establishment of the United States. Several other divisions across multiple states are under control of Fort Bragg.
As any city has its own economy and education system, so does Fort Bragg. The compound is large enough to have its own schools, medical facilities, housing, churches and shopping malls. There are golf courses, pools, bowing centers, hunting fields, craft shops, lakes and tons of events.
Fort Bragg has a big presence in the nearby communities in North Carolina. It contributes $4.1 billion a year to local areas. The military expenditures in this area have also been cited as part of the economic growth for Fayetteville and Cumberland County.
Fort Bragg is quite large and has several options for billeting and visitor lodging. Troops typically sleep in barracks-style apartments. Visitor lodging has different options with several hotels. There are often periods with an influx of active duty soldiers, which may lead to unavailable rooms. You can contact the billeting office at Fort Bragg by calling 910-396-7700. The DSN is 312-236-7700.
Lodging is provided by IHG Army Hotels. You can find the reception desk at Moon Hall on Fort Bragg. Amenities for travelers include TV, cable, coffeemaker, housekeeping, Internet access, microwave and private suites.