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BRAC: Historical Perspective

  • Published
  • By Dan Knickrehm
  • 43rd Airlift Wing, Historian
After reading Chappy's article last week about what the chapel does and will continue to do on base post-BRAC, I found myself disagreeing with what he said on one important issue. Chappy said "we won't let BRAC define who we are." From a historical perspective, BRAC perfectly defines who we are. Let me explain.

While there are, no doubt, significant unit changes going on with Pope, that is really nothing new. A simple example will explain my point. Looking at a book "Air Force Bases: Active Air Force Bases," within the United States under the entry for Pope there were no less than 200 different units assigned to the base from its beginning in 1919 until the book was published in 1982. So units come and go ... that is part of our heritage at Pope.

The real property we stand on, work in and, in some cases, live in will be turned over to the Army. Again this is nothing new. If you know a little bit about Pope history, you will recall that we were part of Fort Bragg from our beginning in January of 1919 until the Air Force became a separate service in 1947. That is 28 years of doing what we do best while residing on an Army base. We were called Pope Field then, and there is no reason why we can't nostalgically refer to our location as Pope Field, even if we are officially named something different.

The 276th Aero Squadron was originally sent to Pope to perform artillery spotting for the troops at Camp Bragg. The relationship between the activities at Pope in its various renditions, with its various names has only increased since then. The integration of flyers and Army personnel has become more involved over the years. The associations between Air Force and Army post-BRAC is a vivid reminder of our original purpose for being here.

There are other ways that BRAC reinforces who we are a Pope, and I will explain a bit further. Chappy's remark brings into stark evidence the fact that many people see BRAC as a negative situation. No doubt there are situations brought about by BRAC that have a negative impact on people, but there is more to it. A few weeks ago, I was talking with Col. James Johnson, the 43rd Airlift Wing Commander. He said: "It's a fact - how you look at a fact is what determines whether it is bad or not." That statement is profoundly true with respect to BRAC. From one perspective it is a reaffirmation of who we are and what we do here on Pope. Oh, and Lord help me for arguing with a chaplain!