In the News – August 18, 2022

Dr. Norma Lee Eckard, president of Friends of the Fort Caswell Rifle Range, presented a review of the recently published book, Brunswick County in the Great War, at the Southport Oak Island Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Ronald and Norma Lee Eckard hold copies of the book, Brunswick County in the Great War, published with their daughter Amy Eckard.
Photo courtesy of Phyllis Wilson.

The Brunswick Beacon published an account of the meeting, which can be read here:
Eckard reviews ‘Brunswick County in the Great War’ at SOI Chamber meeting

As always a big Thank you! to our valuable local media for continuing to publicize and support our efforts, and to the Southport Oak Island Chamber of Commerce for their support!

To purchase a copy of the book, click on
Purchase a Book.

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Memorial Day 2022

We will not forget.

The 23 Brunswick County men who gave their lives in World War I

Killed in Action: Died of Disease:
PFC Walter S Brock PVT William F Brooks
PVT Harvey T Chadwick PFC John W Carlisle
PVT Jimmie Griffin PVT Carl J Danford
PFC Erastus Iredell Nelson Cook David L Dosher
PVT Harry Langdon Pigott Seaman James C Edwards
CPL Herbert B Ward SGT Robert G Farmer
PVT Manning Hall
Died of Wounds: PVT Claudie Hall McCall
PVT William Cross Hewett PVT Elijah Milliken
PVT Benjamin B Smith PVT Kendrick W Outlaw
PVT Cecil Smith Pierce
PVT Samuel C Swain
PVT Guy Ellis Watson
PVT David Williams
PVT Fred Wilson

 

Soldiers on our WWI Wall of Honor who gave their lives

Killed in Action: Died of Accident:
CPL Russell Kellogg Bourne PVT James Hemphill
SGT Richard J. Dennis
PFC Louis “Lolly” B. Doerr Died of Wounds:
Mech Dona J. Dugal PVT Edward Clarkson Bonnell
PFC Wilmer H. Eicke
PVT Ben W. O. Hildebrandt Died of Disease:
PFC Robert Anthony Strzempek PFC Vito Copola
PVT Carl F. Greene

 

The Brunswick County World War I Monument

“Dedicated to the men and women from Brunswick County, NC
who served their country during World War I
with Honor, Courage, and Commitment”

Center photo courtesy of Christine Urick

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In memory of Norman Sprinthall, our Friend of the Fort Caswell Rifle Range

These past two years have been challenging. Many friends and family have been lost. We have shared the loss of friends in the past, and donations have been made to the Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range in honor of the passing of another friend.

Today we mourn the loss of our friend, Norman Sprinthall.

Norman and his wife Lois were early supporters of the stabilization and restoration of the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range. The effort began in 2011.

Norman’s father served in World War I and their large donation to the WWI memorial that was installed at the rifle range on the Centennial was in honor of his father, Sergeant Archie Sprinthall.

“My father joined the war effort in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and he would have wanted me to help save this rifle range located in our residential area in Caswell Beach.” ~ Norman

One of the missions of the Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range is to research, publicize, and preserve the legacies of the men and women of Brunswick County who served in the World War. The birth of that mission was rooted in our initial World War I Wall of Honor.

The wall was created to honor the WWI veterans who were ancestors of the supporters of the rifle range. Norman’s father Sergeant Archie Sprinthall and his friends who lost their lives in WWI were the foundation of our Wall of Honor.

When the Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range published Brunswick County in the Great War, Norman and Lois purchased several copies for the Caswell Dunes clubhouse library to help educate the community not only about WWI, but about the priceless historic structure, the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range, which was located in their own neighborhood.

“What is funny, well not really funny, is that I’ve been passing the rifle range so often since we purchased our condo back in 1985 and never thought to find out what it was or what it was used for. So now that we all know that it was used to train the military to perfect their marksmanship before leaving for France in World War I, why not put our heads together and make it a memorial for all residents in NC to honor, especially Caswell Beach? This historic structure tells us a story of our past going back 100 years ago.”
~ Norman

Norman and Lois were present at nearly all of the fundraisers, events, and Roll Calls, and continued to donate funds or finance anything they felt needed attention, such as No Trespassing signs as the work continued on the rifle range bunker. Photos were published in local newspapers to document their involvement in 2013, 2016 (1, 2, 3), and 2017.

Norman Sprinthall will forever be embedded in the fabric of the rifle range restoration story.

Norman passed away on March 8.

Please read Norman’s obituary to learn about the contributions he made to the communities outside of Caswell Dunes.

Dr. Norman A. Sprinthall Memorial Fund

A memorial fund has been established at the request of Norman’s family.

Please mail memorial contributions to:
Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range
Dr. Norman A. Sprinthall Memorial Fund
5 Foxfire Trace
Caswell Beach, NC 28465

 

Please email ftcaswellriflerange@gmail.com if you require any assistance.

The Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range, Inc is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. All of our members are volunteers and receive no compensation.

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Our First Newsletter

The first Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range newsletter was recently sent via email to supporters. The plan is to publish a newsletter at regular intervals throughout the year to update our supporters.

Included in the newsletter:

  • Brief sections of the larger posts on the website from the past several months, such as Spotlights and Events.
  • Plans and future needs.
  • Updates on book sales and donations.
  • Items from our mailbox.
  • For the first time, a membership campaign to raise money to fulfill the FFCRR mission.

The newsletter may be downloaded here: Winter 2021-2022 FFCRR Newsletter

If you would like to be added to our newsletter email list, please send your email address to ftcaswellriflerange@gmail.com.

We apologize to anyone who did not receive the newsletter. The email address we have for you may be out of date or missing.

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Veterans Day 2021: Taps Across America

On November 11, 2011, at 11:00 am, a group assembled at the Fort Caswell Rifle Range in Caswell Beach, NC, alongside the National WWI Centennial Memorial to honor veterans.

Norma Eckard, president of Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range, spoke to those assembled.

Martha Koletar, Regent of Brunswick Town Chapter of NSDAR, read The Story of Taps.

Richard Slease performed “Taps.”

Richard organized his first Taps Across America tribute at the rifle range last year, when the pandemic prevented many commemorations.

Carl Mauney, WWI reenactor who has attended many of the rifle range commemorations, presented WWI gear in his full World War I reproduction woolen uniform. Carl is always a welcome addition to our events.

DAR chaplain Judy Holden offered this prayer.

O God, our help in ages past our hope for years to come. We praise You for Your Presence with us today and with those who serve our country.

We give special thanks for the 718 men and woman who served in World War I from Brunswick County and American heroes who from our beginning as a nation have paid the supreme sacrifice.

Comfort and protect those who struggle from their experiences and be with the men and women in hospitals. May they know they are not forgotten.

Let us remember the sacrifices of their time away from loved ones and their pride in what they were doing for our country.

As we gather today, may we not take our freedoms lightly, including even this right to gather as a group and the privilege to pray together.

Go with us, Lord, in our separate ways, give us grateful hearts for our wonderful heritage. Help us to realize our responsibilities to keep the fires of patriotism glowing brightly.

Lord God
Be with us yet
Lest we forget
Amen

Thanks to Teresa McLamb for some of the photos posted above.

You can see more photos of the event in the November 17th issue of the State Port Pilot, shown here.

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Join us for Veterans Day 2021: Taps Across America

Download the flyer here: Taps Across America 2021

Read about last year’s event.

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Spotlight: Rob Campbell

Rob Campbell

The previous spotlight shined a light on Betty McGaha, who spent 5 days in 2019 clearing the rifle pit.

The pandemic caused a delay in many of our activities at the rifle range. On the one hand, this allowed us to complete our goal of publishing a book about the quest to restore the rifle range, including the enormous amount of research compiled about the Brunswick County WWI veterans.

But with no major cleanup on the rifle pit, the leaves, dirt, and other debris continued to accumulate. Weeds also grow quickly inside and outside the pit.

Enter Rob Campbell, new resident. Rob enjoys working outside and was intrigued by the history of the rifle range. Upon learning about the World War I structure in his new neighborhood, he immediately offered to do whatever was needed to maintain the historical relic.

We asked Rob to share his thoughts about the importance of preserving the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and designated an official World War I Centennial Memorial.

“I have a natural curiosity for history and historical sites. My wife and I toured Ft. Caswell and I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about those structures and what life must have been like for those who served and were stationed there.

“When I learned about the group helping to preserve the Rifle Range, I volunteered to help due to my personal appreciation for the beauty and the history of this area, as well as the thought that this may well have been a last ‘happy place’ for many soldiers, considering they may have never seen a beach before.

“As fortunate as I am to realize the beauty of this area, daily, I wanted to honor them in helping to preserve the area that, hopefully, they saw as beautiful in an otherwise tragic time.”

Well said, Rob!

We thank Rob Campbell for his cleanup effort and interest in the Fort Caswell Rifle Range!

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Spotlight: Betty McGaha

Betty McGaha

Maintaining the inside of the rifle pit requires constant work throughout the year. Leaves fall in the spring and fall, compacting into wet and heavy loads. Trees and branches fall as a result of hurricanes or strong winds that are typical along the coast. Heavy rain brings both water and dirt. The Stabilization tab at the top of the website includes a journal that shows the work that’s been required through the years.

Three years ago in 2018, local Boy Scouts volunteered their time to clear the pit.

Nearly two years ago, in December 2019, Betty McGaha stepped up and offered her time to shovel the heavy debris. Betty spent five days of hard work inside the rifle pit. The west end of the pit was completely cleared, as shown here. She also worked at the entrance, which had accumulated a lot of heavy debris.

Betty has two brigadier generals in her family – her husband (retired) and her daughter. She strongly supports the preservation of this unique World War I structure.

We thank Betty McGaha for her labor and continuous support of the Fort Caswell Rifle Range! The financial support that Betty and her husband Doyle have provided through the years is also very much appreciated.

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Okey Tucker offers his services for the rifle range restoration

Okey measures the window before installing a plexiglass window.
The Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range is pleased to announce that Okey Tucker, a local consulting environmental engineer, has offered his professional services, pro bono, to rehabilitate the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range.

Mr. Tucker was born and raised in West Virginia until 2019, when he moved full time to Oak Island. Okey and Andrea, his wife of 38 years, had vacationed on Oak Island over the years with their children Sarah and Okey III. They even celebrated their marriage on Oak Island.

Okey graduated with a BS in chemical engineering in 1983 from the WV Institute of Technology in Montgomery, WV. He was employed as an environmental engineer for the State of West Virginia. He currently serves as a consulting senior engineer working from home.

He was an assistant Boy Scout master when his son was growing up and now he and Andrea volunteer for the Caswell Beach Turtle Watch program. He also has a long history of experience in all aspects of home building and improvements.

The initial projects for the rifle range include the installation of a plexiglass window, step improvements for safely entering the rifle range, lowering of the shoring inside for ease of navigation, and a gate system designed for the safety of visitors and animals.

Okey’s plan for the future is to consult with The Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range and the State Historic Preservation Office concerning a roof system for the rifle pit’s Storage Room, located on the east end of the pit.

No Trespassing signs are positioned in various places around the rifle range property to protect and alert folks, especially children, that they are not to go into the property.

There is much more work to be completed. We welcome Okey Tucker and we thank him for helping to save the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range!

Read the announcement about Okey in the Brunswick Beacon.

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Introducing our book at the NC Maritime Museum exhibit, September 18-19, 2021

Mary Snead and neighbor Melody visiting the museum and the Great War display.
The Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range introduced our book, Brunswick County in the Great War, with an exhibit at the World War I and Life-Saving Service Living History Weekend in the NC Maritime Museum.

President Norma Eckard, one of the three authors, presented the book at the exhibit. The 584 page book contains 7 significant parts; each was shown in 7 separate notebooks to make it easier for the public to review.

Tri-folds showed the story of the last 10 years and how the mission of saving the rifle range grew to include the writing of Brunswick County in the Great War.

“The book is a valuable resource for all history buffs”, said Eckard. “College and high school students can also benefit by using the book to enhance their World and US History courses by reading the profiles of local men who left their farms to support France in the war.

“Professors and high school history teachers may provide a number of activities, using the book to embellish their students’ studies and emphasize the patriotism within their communities of 102 years ago. The Cape Fear Region is rich in military history as well as a population who responds to resources like this book. I can envision students interviewing descendants of many of the veterans.”

Brunswick County in the Great War includes more than some of the stories of local men and one woman who served. The 14 nurses from Fort Caswell who served during WWI are also presented in the book. In addition, there is a WWI Wall of Honor that includes brief biographies of men from outside of Brunswick County who served, submitted by the many supporters of the Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range.

Spreadsheets (see the webpage on this website) are included in the book with all of the men and one woman who served from Brunswick County and nearby counties, listing their residence, date of birth, death, unit, age, rank, cemetery, and when they were discharged. The 718 men and one woman who served were honored by donations to support the purchase of a monument placed beside the rifle range in 2018, the Centennial year of the entrance of the United States in the Great War.

The State Port Pilot included a photo display in the September 23, 2021, edition, seen here.

Norma enjoyed learning more about WWI from the presenters near her exhibit. The photos at right and below include USMC officer Peter Meyer displaying the guns used during the Great War. The machine gun shown was too heavy to carry into battle. The bottom rifle is a “Springfield” that was used the most by the infantry in WWI. Peter had many military experiences to share with the public.

Also pictured, Daniel Jutson served in the Signal Corps for 28 years and retired as a captain. Daniel had many artifacts to share with the public. It was quite an extraordinary display.

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