The theater at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum brought four Soldiers, active and retired, before the Fayetteville community to tell their Fort Bragg stories, Saturday.
What followed was an hour of emotional storytelling.
Eric Hodge, WUNC’s “Morning Edition,” hosted the live event.
Each Soldier’s perspective was entirely their own.
Retired Maj. Bill Wadford spoke to the crowd of his time with the 5th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in Panama in 1989 and explained that remembering those they saved makes the losses more bearable.
Retired Maj. Thomas
McCollum, a Fayetteville native, spoke about the impact of teaching and learning from Soldiers.
“That was one of my best assignments in the Army, and by far the thing I liked about it most was being involved in the Soldier development … Not only did I help to develop them, but they helped develop me … they helped make me who I am,” he said.
Master Sgt. Judy ‘Yoli’ Betancourt shared stories related to the conflicts she encountered as a “female warrior” and a mother over the course of a 31-year military career.
Capt. Phil Sussman recounted the death of a Soldier he barely knew.
“That was it. You died and we continued to train the next day…,” Sussman began.
As he spoke of recovering the personal effects of the Soldier who was killed in a vehicle roll-over during a training accident, Sussman became overcome with emotion.
He described recovering the Soldier’s watch and keeping it safe with a picture of his daughter he carries during training.
“I cried for you. I cried for me. I cried for my daughter and I cried for the daughter you left behind,” recounted Sussman. “Sgt. … Chris, I hardly knew you, but now we are connected forever.”
Fort Bragg Stories is a part of WUNC’s the American Homefront Project. It intends to tell the story of life in and around Fort Bragg through personal narratives.
“There is so much history… that have dates and numbers and that’s incredibly important… the people here have shaped world affairs,” said David Brower, program director, WUNC. “What we are hoping to capture and turn the corner in is the human side of things … haircuts and raising children and going to the movies.”
The program is accepting additional stories at www. wunc.org/term/ft-bragg-stories. The Fort Bragg Stories live story telling event is available in full at www.goo.gl/xC82wK.