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Pope Airmen Need New Place To Shop For Groceries

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CUMBERLAND COUNTY — Pope Air Force Basefamilies have shopped at their commissary for more than 30 years. Despite efforts by shoppers to keep the cash registers ringing, the doors will soon close on the establishment.

When the Defense Commissary Agency made the decision to open the military's largest commissary at Fort Bragg last year, closing Pope's store was part of the deal. The decision does not sit well with some of its patrons.

"Everyone uses it. You don't have to wait in line as much," says airman Jerry Machado. "It's another thing we lose. The base doesn't have it anymore."

Brigadier General Dick Casey says the store meant a lot to Air Force families. It was something to call their own.

"As military downsized and we've tried to cut the budget, it's perceived that more and more benefits are disappearing, and that's what people saw here," he says.

Casey went up his chain of command to try and stop the closing. Shoppers contacted lawmakers and signed a petition to keep the food flying at Pope. Airmen like Kristine Stiles say it is a quality-of-life issue.

"That means I have to go out of my way on my way home to go to another commissary or go off-base and spend more money at Food Lion," she says.

Bigger is not always better for retiree Robert Seeley and his wife, Isabelle. After 16 years, they are forced to supersize.

"When you go into the larger commissary, you've got to search for things and it takes too much of my time," she says.

The store will close Friday, April 13. Families say despite the final notice, they will work between now and then to try and keep it open.



Melissa Buscher, Reporter
Michael Joyner, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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