Based in Richmond County and centered between Moore, Scotland and Hoke counties, Camp Mackall is a sub-installation of Fort Bragg.
During World War II, Richmond County Commissioners asked that the Hoffman wildlife area be considered for an Army camp, as were many other places in North Carolina. Because the U.S. government already owned most of the land needed, which was acquired during the Great Depression, the Army made a decision to accept the proposal that would include some 65,000 acres, owned by the U.S. government, bought and leased. The Army spent $77,866 purchasing land. Construction of Camp Mackall began in 1942 and cost $14.4 million.
On Tuesday morning, Richmond County Commissioners and Economic Development Team members took a tour of Camp Mackall. Much has changed since 1942.
Many of the original buildings are not standing anymore. The camp is divided into four areas, and makeshift villages are set up and used for cultural training.
The United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School uses Camp Mackall to train Special Forces candidates. Camp Mackall has a drop zone for parachuting, classrooms for language instruction and testing and make-shift villages that simulate a foreign cultural setting in which students can practice their negotiation and language training with role players who stand in as foreigners.
Camp Mackall works in conjunction with other military installations around the country to train soldiers in various skills and fields. Some soldiers will learn mountain climbing in Colorado while some will learn to dive in Key West, Florida.
Economic Development Team members that were on the tour were Rick Sago, Jim McCaskill, Abbie Covington, Emily Tucker, Terry Green, George Norris, Monty Crump, Steve Morris, Antonio Blue and Olivia Webb. County Commissioners present were Kenneth Robinette, Peggy Covington, John Garner, Thad Ussery and Don Bryant. Clerk to the Board of Commissioners Marian Savage was present, along with Rockingham City Planner John Massey. Congressman Larry Kissell was also present, along with members of his staff.
“It was a very informative tour and Camp Mackall is truly an asset for Richmond County and the entire region,” said Sago. “As seen, this was a joint tour of the Development Team and the County Board of Commissioners, the cooperation between the development team which is made up of representatives of all of the municipalities, as well as members of the business community, and the County Board of Commissioners is another example of the way that all of the parties in Richmond County work together to further economic development in the county. The cooperation in Richmond County between all of the different entities that are working to further Richmond County’s economy is unique and it has and will continue to pay off. Today’s joint trip is another example,” he said.
“Camp Mackall was not what I expected,” said Robinette. “I learned a lot about what they do. It’s a large facility and the specialization of the training was not what I expected. It was definitely a bigger facility than what I thought it was going to be. The tour was very informative. We are fortunate to have a facility like this.”
“I thought the tour was well organized,” said Peggy Covington. “I really learned a lot more than I could visualize. I was very impressed and I would like every teenager to see it.”
Soldiers discussed situations they had been in, for which the training helped prepare them, such as having to live in the forest for two weeks without food. One soldier said he killed a snake, found corn and even boiled a road-kill raccoon. Students have to learn and practice about 13 different languages. They learn how to escape from being captured and learn what to do if interrogated. According to Camp Mackall staff, soldiers receive the equivalent of a bachelors degree. It costs the military $36,000 to train a Special Forces soldier.
“This is not lining up and fighting each other,” said Garner. “I think our military is doing a great job educating these soldiers.”
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.