State News

Merger with Pope makes Fort Bragg even bigger

Posted March 1, 2011 4:00 a.m. EST
Updated March 1, 2011 4:50 p.m. EST

— One of the nation's largest military bases is about to get even bigger.

A ceremony was held Tuesday at Pope Air Force Base marking the facility's merger with nearby Fort Bragg. The Army is assuming responsibility for the base, which will be renamed Pope Army Air Field.

Once the merger is complete, Fort Bragg will have about 58,000 uniformed military personnel and 13,000 civilian workers. The Air Force will see its numbers reduced by about 1,100.

“Pope and Fort Bragg have long been a family,” said Fort Bragg Deputy Commander Maj. Gen. Rodney Anderson.

The name Pope Field is a return to the beginning.

In 1919, the military established a landing field in the newly formed Camp Bragg and named it Pope Field, after Lt. Harley Pope who died after crashing his plane into the Cape Fear River earlier that year. 

"I think the name, actually, it's kind of nostalgic. It comes back to its roots," said Col. Merle Hart, of the 440th Airlift Wing. 

The move is one of the changes recommended by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission.

One of the goals is to improve the efficiency of services provided to military personnel and their families, ranging from housing assistance to religious support.