In honor of Fort Bragg’s 100th anniversary coming up, and in addition to the other history pieces we will be covering at the Paraglide, I thought it would be interesting to delve into some aspects of post that may get overlooked during our coverage. With a hundred years of history that incorporates two world wars and numerous other engagements, some of the smaller pieces of Fort Bragg’s history may be left waiting in the wings.
So this week, I decided to write about McKellar’s Lodge on McKellar’s Road (Gruber becomes McKellar’s Road at the Pratt Street intersection).
A lodge has stood at the location of the present day lodge since the 1920s. Back then, Fort Bragg was still called Camp Bragg, and the structure was a little wooden cabin. Officers would find solace in the place and rest their horses at the lodge, while hunters and fishers used the lodge as a starting point for their ventures.
McKellar’s Lodge and McKellar’s pond sat quietly throughout the years, a refuge to those who hunted and fished the area.
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy visited McKellar’s Lodge and the ponds nearby. He was meeting Gen. William P. Yarborough, a notable figure who designed the parachutist badge, jump boots and the airborne jump uniform. What made him the most famous, however, was having his Special Forces Soldiers wear green berets.
The green beret was hugely controversial. Special Forces Soldiers had adopted the colored beret in 1954, as a way to set themselves apart. In 1956, the then post commander, Gen. Paul D. Adams, banned the wearing of the green beret on Fort Bragg. Members of the Special Forces Group continued to wear their berets in a more secretive manner.
Yarborough became the commander of the U.S. Army Special Warfare Center/School for Special Warfare in January of 1961, and invited President Kennedy for a visit.
Tradition has it that Yarborough met President Kennedy at McKellar’s Lodge with his Special Forces Soldiers wearing their distinctive berets. During this meeting, Kennedy authorized the use of the green beret for Special Forces, singling them out as an elite fighting force. McKellar’s has had a Special Forces flavor ever since.
The original lodge at the location burned down and was replaced in the 1970s. In 1999, the building was torn down and construction on a new lodge began. In 2001, the building that is currently McKellar’s Lodge was completed and opened for the public.
Today McKellar’s Lodge has a lunch buffet, a dining menu and a bar. Patrons can play games while they hang out at the bar. The lodge is open Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and Friday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Catering is also available.
The lodge is still a place for hunters and fishermen to gather. Two, 100-meter rifle and pistol ranges and one, 50-meter archery range is available for members of the McKellar’s Lodge Gun and Rod Club. For more information about the club, visit https://bragg.armymwr.com/programs/rod-and-gun-club-mckellars-lodge.
(Editor’s note: Information for this Basic Training was provided by https://bragg.armymwr.com/programs/rod-and-gun-club-mckellars-lodge and https://bragg.isportsman.net/).