Portrait of Mike Thomas.
Matt Couch / WUNC

Mike Thomas was a young captain in the summer of 1990 when he got orders to deploy to Saudi Arabia as part of Operation Desert Shield. After spending nine months in the Gulf, he flew home to Fort Bragg.

Ft. Bragg Stories uses personal narratives to explore life on and around this country's largest military base.  And, now it's available as a podcast on iTunes, Google Play and Stitcher

Fewer than one percent of Americans are in the military, compared with about nine percent during World War II. Researchers say that's helped create a divide between veterans and non-veterans.


When they got married, Weaverville residents Dennis and Christine McClure never dreamed they would write a book together. That was before they learned the harrowing tale of the construction of the Alaska Highway during World War II. The U.S. government feared an invasion from the north by the Japanese and needed a way to get troops and supplies to Alaska in eight months. Commanding Army officers were reluctant to hire black regiments for the project, but they needed the manpower.

The TOWR Mobil Unit is currently used for testing and housed at RTI International’s facility in RTP.
Courtesy of RTI International

North Carolina-based RTI International is developing something that could reduce the number of troops injured while supporting forward operating bases: a new latrine system.

Homelessness often looks different for veterans living in rural communities: Rather than living in the streets, they may be couch-surfacing, sleeping in their cars, or camping in the woods.

A World War II era aircraft drops candy to children below as it flies over Dare County Regional Airport in Manteo, N.C. on Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017.
Ben McKeown / For WUNC

In Manteo yesterday, hundreds of people turned out for an annual reenactment of a heartwarming part of the Cold War -- when American pilots dropped candy from the sky for the children of Berlin during the Soviet blockade.

A workshop in New York uses creative writing and Shakespearean monologues to help veterans heal.

Contaminated water at the Camp Lejeune military base has been linked to adverse health effects.
Sanjay Parekh, via Flickr

The state Agriculture Department plans to ask the legislature for $13 million to help buffer military bases from encroaching development.

The new veterans ID cards were mandated by a 2015 law. But some veterans groups are raising questions about the possibility that the cards will include corporate branding.

Naval History and Heritage Command

Starting in at least the 1920s, the U.S. Army recruited soldiers to test the effects of dangerous and powerful chemicals. 

An image of a sign for Fort Bragg
Fish Cop / Public Domain

New Pentagon data shows that reports of sexual assault jumped 28 percent in just one year at Fort Bragg. But a base spokesman says that’s because more soldiers are reporting assaults that happened in previous years.

A picture of the NCNG logo.
North Carolina National Guard

Shifting populations and changing demographics. Those are the key drivers behind the initiative known as the Readiness Center Transformation Master Plan.

A new program in Los Angeles is trying to provide female veterans with health care outside the VA, which some consider a male dominated environment.

Four World War II veterans were honored with Legion of Honor awards at a Raleigh ceremony.  From left: Morton Jacobs of New Bern, John P. Irby, III of Raleigh, Robert C. Senter of Fuquay-Varina, and Salvatore Maiello of Fayetteville.
Jay Price / WUNC

The number of North Carolina veterans who fought in World War II is declining. But last week, four of them got an official thanks from a country they helped liberate.

 Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin speaks during a press briefing in Bridgewater, N.J.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photo

When service members are discharged from the military, the degree to which they can receive benefits from Veterans Affairs depends largely on their characterization of service.

This month’s mass shooting at a Texas church has raised questions of whether the military does enough to help former service members with bad conduct discharges. They're not eligible for veterans' mental health care.  

During a San Diego training exercise, the Marine Corps tried out some new tools to enhance its amphibious landings.

The National Geographic mini-series depicts the true story of an ambush that killed eight Americans and hundreds of Iraqis.

John Carroll Whitener
Courtesy of John Carroll Whitener

 John Carroll Whitener could have easily avoided being drafted into the Vietnam War. He could have truthfully checked the box marked “yes” on the military form that asked new recruits if they had homosexual tendencies. But doing so would have meant admitting a truth he was not ready to accept and facing the consequences of a future that did not include his family and church.

Cover of Hue 1968
Courtesy of Mark Bowden / Atlantic Monthly Press/2017

Almost 50 years after the epic battle that changed the course of the Vietnam War, author Mark Bowden visited the city of Hue to piece together what happened. 

On Veterans Day, WUNC presents stories recorded during a live storytelling event at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, NC.  The hour long broadcast is hosted by Eric Hodge. Hear these stories Saturday, November 11 at 2 p.m. on North Carolina Public Radio.

Over the hour you'll hear from active duty soldiers and veterans who share their Ft. Bragg Stories. You can listen to the broadcast online, too:

David Jay Photography

For many years U.S. Navy Officer Jerri Bell swallowed the story that when it came to military service, women were only involved in support roles. It was not until she started researching for a book on women’s military history that she realized the common narrative was false: women had been actively involved in combat since the American revolution. 

A month and a half after hurricane Maria, the VA Caribbean Healthcare system is delivering care in unconventional ways. And it's helping veterans whose PTSD was triggered by the storm.

Senior Airman Brittain Crolley / U.S. Air Force


The U.S. Senate has backed away from a proposal to close military bases for now, but that is not stopping some communities from planning ahead for the next round of cuts.

In Goldsboro, organizations and civic leaders are teaming up with the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base to improve the base’s facilities and increase engagement with the community. The partnership is a part of strategy to improve relations with the military and bolster the efficiency of the base.

Ft Bragg Stories A mixed 'chalk' of U.S. and British paratroopers line up to board a C-130 transport plane for the main jump of the joint exercise.
Jay Price / North Carolina Public Radio - WUNC

North Carolina is home to the largest U.S. military installation in the world by population. It employs more than 50,000 military and close to 30,000 civilians and contributes tens of billions of dollars to the state’s economy.

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl
Ted Richardson, File / AP

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's attorneys are nearing the end of their defense for the soldier who pleaded guilty to endangering his comrades by walking away from his remote post in Afghanistan in 2009.

Removing pythons helps the ecology of the Everglades - and helps veterans transition from the battlefield to civilian life.

Many residents are making daily visits to distribution sites, where the Army has set up portable water purification systems.

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl
Ted Richardson / AP

Updated 2:45 p.m. | October 31, 2017

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was a "gold mine" of intelligence, helping the military better understand insurgents and how they imprison the enemy, two agents testified Tuesday as defense attorneys sought to show the soldier's contributions since he was returned in a prisoner swap.