Camp Mackall is an active U.S. Army training facility located 55 miles west of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. It has served as the primary training grounds for prospective U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers. Most soldiers are unaware of the historical connection of the base to WWII. The FOB Freedom operations center tent sits where the former WWII Station Hospital was located. Freedom Village occupies the original hospital steam plant. The SURF was built where the hospital supply area was once located.
On 8 February 1943, General Order Number 6 renamed the Hoffman Airborne Camp to Camp Mackall in honor of Private John Thomas (Tommy) Mackall.
While serving in the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment during Operation TORCH, the Allied invasion of North Africa, Mackall was mortally wounded when French Vichy fighters attacked his aircraft as it landed near Oran on November 8, 1942.
Seven paratroopers were killed, and several were injured. Mackall was evacuated by air to a British hospital on Gibraltar, where he died of his wounds on 12 November 1942.
Future airborne units began filling the south cantonment area in January 1943. Cadre conducted basic and advanced infantry and artillery training at the base while perfecting parachuting and glider operations. Three airborne divisions (the 11th, 13th, and 17th Airborne Divisions) were formed and trained at Camp Mackall during World War II.
The 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, while not developed at Camp Mackall, trained there before leaving for the European theater. During the war, a variety of units trained and conducted operational tests at the base. After the war, Camp Mackall was used as an airborne maneuver area by XVIII Airborne Corps units.
In the 1950s, Camp Mackall became a training site for the newly created Special Forces. However, it fell into disrepair until the 1980s. In the post-Vietnam period, the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (USAJFKSWCS) built the Rowe Training Facility for Special Forces training. Other USAJFKSWCS courses also began using Camp Mackall as a training site.
A lesser-known part of the camp’s history is the Civil Affairs (CA) and Psychological Operations (PSYOP) training conducted by the members of 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne).
18C Special Forces engineer sergeant students built the first permanent structures for CA as a practicum during the “Q-course” (a different class constructed each building). CA and PSYOP cadre began using these temporary facilities as a command post and training area in late 1999 until a permanent compound could be constructed.
Today Camp Mackall has heavy security and is not open to just anyone; you must be assigned to get onto the grounds. Camp Mackall even hosts large floating solar panels in Little Muddy Lake.
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