Up & Coming Weekly

January 05, 2021

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 15 of 24

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM JANUARY 6-12, 2021 UCW 15 KEYURI PARAB, Editorial Assistant COMMENTS? Editor@upandcomin- gweekly.com 910-484-6200. Garrison Commander shares post highlights, focus for new year by KEYURI PARAB Fort Bragg is one of the U.S. Army's largest military installations with about 50,000 troops and 14,000 civilians. The installation serves as a vital training location and platform to deploy troops worldwide on short notice. Known as the "Home of the Airborne and Special Operations Forces," Fort Bragg is the headquarters for the Army's Forces Command, 18th Airborne Corps, Special Operations Command and the Army Reserve Command. If Fort Bragg were a city in North Carolina, it would be the fifth largest. With its own law enforcement, public works, housing and trans- portation infrastructure, Fort Bragg is essen- tially a medium-sized city. The post supports a population of roughly 140,000 including military, employees, contractors, retirees and families. Col. Scott Pence serves as the Fort Bragg Garrison Commander, a role similar to a civilian city manager. Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Pence began his career as a tank platoon leader. He commanded a tank company at Camp Casey, Korea. Later selected to serve in the 75th Ranger Regiment, Pence was the chief of ope- rations for a joint task force in Iraq and then the Ranger Regimental Headquarters Company Commander. Pence served as the Battalion S-3 of 2-503 Infantry (Airborne) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Brigade S-3 of the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vicenza, Italy. He was the commander of 5-73 Cavalry Squadron (Airborne). His combat tours include three deployments in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and one deploy- ment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Pence recently found time to talk with Up & Coming Weekly about how Fort Bragg handled 2020 and the installation's focus for 2021. "Fort Bragg has had many successes this year," Pence said. "One I would like to highlight is our child development centers. Fort Bragg CDCs received the highest commendation ever by our higher headquarters, Installation Management Command. This reassures our military families that their children are in a safe, supportive and enriching environment while they are serving their nation." UCW: The Dec. 23 issue of Up & Coming Weekly featured Sgt. 1st Class Justin and Tawni Dixon as the Fort Bragg military family of the year. What can you tell our readers about other families on Fort Bragg? Col. Pence: Army Families are self less, by nature. Even through the pandemic, our fami- lies volunteered their time for multiple efforts. During the Iron Mike Awards in October, many family members were recognized for their volunteer efforts, volunteering more than 5,880 hours, which would equal about $315,000 of their contribution to Fort Bragg. Through unit Family Readiness Groups, families-ini- tiated meal trains, put together care packages for redeploying soldiers, sewed facial masks for first responders and other families, and delivered baked goods to our security gate guards. Families supported contactless grab bags for Halloween, curbside meal distribution for Thanksgiving, and contributed to the 17,761lbs of non-perishable goods during the base-wide food drive. Items were donated to food banks in Cumberland, Harnett and Moore Counties. UCW: Will the COVID-19 vacci- ne being administered on post be available for families on post and local area retirees? Col. Pence: The vaccine is the Pfizer-Biontech COVID-19 vac- cine, and it is being delivered to healthcare workers first, then first-responders, then to military forces important to our national defense. Further information is forthcoming on when we will begin vaccinating family mem- bers and retirees. UCW: How has Womack Army Medical Center handled the pandemic? Col. Pence: We have some of the best medical professionals in the world right here at Fort Bragg, led by Col. Christopher Jarvis, the commander of Womack Army Medical Center. They, and our amazing Public Health office under Col. Sheryl Bedno, and all the healthcare workers at WAMC have been nothing but extraordinary. They rapidly expanded with contact tracers and con- sulted everyone on post on how to protect our- selves from the spread of the virus. They have executed the guidance and intent of our Senior Commander, Lt. Gen. Michael "Erik" Kurilla, expertly. We are all much safer for their advice and counsel. UCW: How has the pandemic affected on post schools for family members? Col. Scott Pence: One thing that Department of Defense Education Activity Schools did here at Fort Bragg is continuing to provide school meals for children. During the pandemic, they created a contactless grab-n-go system that pro- vided meals to all families, regardless of school status, to ages 18 and below. This demonstrated a level of care and compassion that our wonder- ful military families deserve. UCW: What are your priorities for Fort Bragg heading into 2021? Col. Pence: We are in lockstep with the Chief of Staff of the Army's People First Strateg y. Installation improvements from potholes to barracks renovation - enhance quality of life. Installations like Fort Bragg execute 4 of the 5 quality of life initiatives that the Army is focu- sed on. Housing (Barracks and Family Housing) is a constant focus. Internally, we're getting our processes and systems honed to be able to bet- ter serve the community. UCW: Can you tell our readers some other projects happening on post in 2021? Col. Pence: 2021 is an execution year for many projects that have been in the works for years. The Pope Army Airfield is getting a 90-mil- lion-dollar replacement to its airfield which will extend its life over 50 years. We're finally finishing an agreement with the North Carolina Department of Transportation that will allow for major road repairs. And we're renovating four sets of barracks, which will provide better living conditions for our great soldiers. Ref lecting on 2020 as a challenging year dea- ling with the pandemic, Pence is proud of the accomplishments of the soldiers, civilians and family members on Fort Bragg. W hile many events were cancelled or adapted, such as the annual tree lighting ceremony, the installation's relationship with the local community hasn't changed. "Fort Bragg remains a close partner with our surrounding communities, such as Fayetteville," he said. "We are blessed to have such positive community support for our sol- diers, families and veterans in the area." Col. Scott Pence, Fort Bragg Garrison Commander COMMUNITY VOICES

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