north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

     The history of Pope Field (formerly Pope Air Force Base) is closely akin to that of Fort Bragg. Camp Bragg was established in 1918 and the following year Camp Bragg Flying Field opened. The first officer assigned was First Lieutenant Harley Halbert Pope, a native of Bedford, Indiana. He and W. W. Fleming on January 7, 1919, left Camp Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina, in a JN-4 or “Jenny” to scout landing fields for an airmail route. Without benefit of instruments they followed the railroad tracks. Very near to their destination, the Army aviators ran out of fuel and attempted to land their “airship” in the Cape Fear River but crashed. Both men died. Lt. Pope was memorialized with the renaming of the field on April 5, 1919.

     In the early years activity around Pope Field was so slow that pilots were asked to buzz the area to scare away grazing deer before landing. In the 1920s the primary use of the facility was for observation, balloon, and bombing training. A major expansion occurred in the 1930s with runway extension, installation of lighting, and construction of a new headquarters building and two hangars. During World War II the primary use was for troop carrier training. Throughout these years Pope Field remained under the auspices of the Army. After the Army Air Force became a separate branch of the military in 1947, Pope became a base.

     Troops from Pope have been deployed in major conflicts such as Vietnam, the Gulf War, and the Iraq War as well as actions taken in the Congo, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Panama, and Somalia. In 2011 Pope Air Force Base was absorbed into Fort Bragg, once again becoming Pope Field.

Robert Mueller, Reference Series: Air Force Bases (Office of Air Force History, 1989)
Bernard C. Nalty, Winged Shield, Winged Sword: A History of the U.S. Air Force, Volume 2, 1950-1947 (1997)
(Raleigh) News & Observer, October 5, 1941, and December 9, 1951
Fayetteville Observer, January 8 and March 26, 1919
John A. Oates, The Story of Fayetteville and the Upper Cape Fear (1972)
The State, March 7, 1951
Roy Parker Jr., Cumberland County: A Brief History (1990)
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north carolina highway historical marker program

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