Category Archives: Status

A new year brings new goals

Caswell Beach Mayor Deborah Ahlers poses in front of the WWI Monument after receiving the WWI Centennial Memorial Certificate

A year of hard work, contributions, and support from the community for the Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran program culminated on Veterans Day 2018 with the installation and dedication of the Brunswick County WWI Monument at the Fort Caswell Rifle Range.

We thank the community for their help and for sharing the stories of the sacrifices made not only by the men, women, and families of Brunswick County during World War I, but our ancestors around the country. (Posted Brunswick County WWI Profiles begin with Wagoner Dorman Mercer, while submitted photos and stories can be read on our WWI Wall of Honor.)

In a few weeks, we’ll conclude the weekly WWI Profiles on the website for Brunswick County veterans identified as wounded or died while serving. WWI Profiles will then be posted for the Brunswick County veterans on the WWI Wall of Honor. (Note that the website is about 5 months ahead with profiles that The Brunswick Beacon has not yet published.)

We are grateful that The Brunswick Beacon continues to publish the weekly WWI Profiles. To see the list of the profiles published on the website and those in The Brunswick Beacon as well as other local newspapers, see the list here.

WWI photos and information are always welcome.

New Goals

Stabilization of the target pit has been achieved; restoration is next. A book is planned this year, which will require funding. The Honor a Brunswick County WWI veteran program will continue; donations of any amount are encouraged to honor all of the Brunswick County WWI veterans. To date, 401 of 724 have been honored.

Goals and a detailed list of funds needed will be posted soon.


The Fundraising tab at the top of the website has been replaced by the Events tab. There are several events already planned, such as commemorating the US Entry into WWI, the Armistice, and the Installation and Dedication of the military marker to honor the only known WWI POW Pvt Robert Bollie Stanley.

New Fundraisers

2018 was the sixth and last of the Kentucky Derby Day fundraisers. New fundraising events are planned. These will be posted in the Events section of the website.

New Board Members

With the completion of the memorial and the designation of the Fort Caswell Rifle Range as an official US WWI Centennial Memorial, new board members have been selected. Information will be posted soon.

Thank you for your support!

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Installing the Brunswick County WWI Monument

Cyrus McAlister and Rashid Johnson from Cole Monument Works in Whiteville returned today to place the monument on the base.

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Installing the base for the Brunswick County World War I Monument

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Storm update

Hurricane Florence is currently moving toward the coast of North Carolina.

The rifle range is 100 years old. It has remained standing through many hurricanes. We hope both the rifle range and the beautiful coastline will remain intact.

First priorities are homes, communities, and loved ones. When time permits and news of the rifle range is available, we will pass on any damage reports.

Those at the coast and along the path of the hurricane will be in our thoughts. Stay safe.

Hurricane Florence image by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA

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A flurry of activity

Fort Caswell Rifle Range experienced a very busy week. Then the exciting news arrived that the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range was now designated a national WWI Centennial Memorial and suddenly there were many items on the To Do list.

A quick recap…

Friday and Saturday, March 30-31, Ethan Pannkuk arrived to complete his Eagle Scout Service Project. He and some family, friends, and fellow Scouts from Troop 210 in Carolina Beach worked for two days to clear the floor of the target pit and remove roots, digging and clearing the dirt from behind the north wall to examine the footer, and begin the effort to straighten the wall. Two posts cover this work: Day 1 and Day 2. Local newspapers will feature the work later; copies will be found on the News section of the website when they have been published.

On Tuesday, April 3, a visitor from the State Historic Preservation Office in Raleigh inspected the rifle range. The Friends of Fort Rifle Range will continue with stabilization efforts as advised.

Helen and Bob Radcliffe have been hard at work on two projects. They created a standing wooden monument with thermometer to show fundraising progress.

Helen worked on beautiful themed baskets that will be available for raffle at the Derby fundraiser on Saturday, May 5.

Buy your tickets now!

The clubhouse can only accommodate a limited number. Volunteers are still needed.

Tabletop horses are available for sale! Become an “owner” of the horse and win when your horse does. See Derby fundraiser webpage.

Banners were installed at the clubhouse to announce the Derby fundraiser.

An additional banner was ordered using a poster from the Library of Congress with the insignias of combat units during World War I. This poster was used by the recruiting office in 1919. You can see the poster and link on the World War I Army/Marine Division Roster webpage.

The photo shown is Norm Sprinthall pointing at the insignia of the 26th Division, the unit his father served in during WWI. Read more about Norm and Lois Sprinthall’s donation in honor of his father, Sgt Archie Sprinthall. Sgt Sprinthall is also included on the WWI Wall of Honor, as well as his fellow soldiers who didn’t return home.

Photo by Christine Urick
Friday, April 6, the Commemoration of the Anniversary of United State’s entry into WWI was held. It was a beautiful day. The recitation of honored Brunswick County WWI veterans was touching. Read the DAR Brunswick Chapter blog post.

Also on Friday, the announcement was made by The United States World War I Centennial Commission and The Pritzker Military Museum & Library – –

The 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range had joined prestigious WWI memorials and landmarks such as Chicago’s “Soldier Field” and Washington, D.C.’s “National World War I Memorial at Pershing Park”.

The 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range is now designated as one of only 100 national WWI Centennial Memorials.

It must be said again and again before the Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range can finally believe it. The 100 designated memorials must be checked each day to ensure the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range is still listed.

This was the culmination of many months of writing, reviewing, revising, and hand-wringing to create a proposal that would fully capture the dedication required for the seven years of work to date. The Fort Caswell Rifle Range receives not only the national designation, but also a grant “towards the restoration, conservation and maintenance of local historical treasures.”

It will result in national attention and publicity for the rifle range. More details will follow on possible podcasts, the award presentation, and publications. Official press release: FINAL 100 Cities/100 Memorials Press Release for Official World War I Centennial Memorials

The U.S. World War One Centennial Commission was established by the World War One Centennial Commission Act, part of Public Law 112-272 passed by the 112th Congress and signed by President Obama on January 16, 2013. The Commission is responsible for planning, developing, and executing programs, projects, and activities to commemorate the centennial of World War One. All living presidents serve as Honorary Chairs. Read more on the webpage at

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The Brunswick County World War I veterans list has been updated

Trying to find information or locate a WWI profile about a specific veteran in a group of 730+ names can be difficult.

Here is the easiest method:

  • Go to the Brunswick County World War I veterans list by clicking here or the blue button labeled “WWI Brunswick Co. Veterans” on the top right of most pages.
  • Names are listed alphabetically. Find your veteran name.
  • If there is a blue link on the name, click on it to view either a WWI profile that has been posted or entries in the World War I Wall of Honor.

    The Wall of Honor was created using photographs and stories sent to the Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range. There are Brunswick County veterans on that list. WWI profiles are being posted first on veterans who were wounded or died while serving. Any Brunswick County veterans on the Wall of Honor will eventually have a WWI profile posted.

  • If there is a blue number after the name, click on it to view a reference to that veteran.
  • If the date of death has a blue link, click on it to view the cemetery where the veteran is buried. Most of these are findagrave listings.

All stories and photographs are welcome.

If you have any findagrave listings for veterans, please send them to We hope to have a complete list eventually.

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Status Update: Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran

On November 11, 2017, The Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range began the year-long commemoration of the end of World War I. A memorial to Brunswick County WWI veterans is planned for November 11, 2018 at the site of the 1918 Fort Caswell Rifle Range.

It’s been about two months since “Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran” began. Much has happened.

The 700+ Brunswick County WWI veteran names were gathered from records and the list was created on the website. Click here for the list or use the blue button on the side of every page. Click here for the list of donors and the veteran they honored or use the blue button on the side of every page.

To date, 110 veterans have been honored with a donation.

A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) was created to assist in choosing a veteran to honor.


A design for the WWI Memorial for Brunswick County veterans was chosen, based on a sketch by Helen Radcliffe.

A logo was created.

The following WWI Profiles about Brunswick County veterans were posted to the blog using historical documents. Except for Nurse Williams, profiles are focused on veterans who were Wounded, KIA, Died of Wounds or Disease. More profiles are planned. Subscribe or visit the website often!

Dorman L. Mercer, probably the longest living Brunswick County WWI veteran (Dorman passed away in 1996 at age 102).

Susan Adkins Williams, the only known WWI nurse born and raised in Brunswick County.

From the 365th Infantry, 92nd Division “Buffalo Soldiers”

William Frederick Brooks
William James Gordon
Robert Bollie Stanley, Brunswick County’s only known POW.

From the 105th Engineers, 30th Division “Old Hickory”

Lawson Devaun Ballard
George Harker Hewett
Harvey T. Chadwick
Thedford S. Lewis

Norma Eckard, president of Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range, spoke to the Brunswick County Historical Society. Local media reported.

November 23, 2017; Brunswick Beacon:
Club Profile: Brunswick County Historical Society

November 29, 2017: State Port Pilot:
Great War vets honored

December 15, 2017: Star News:
Ft Caswell Rifle Range subject of talk

Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range received a large donation. This story was posted on the blog, plus published in the Brunswick Beacon.

The local media has shown interest in sharing the WWI veteran profiles. The profile on Nurse Susan Williams was included in these newspapers.

December 28, 2017; Brunswick Beacon:
A World War Profile of Susan Adkins Williams

December 30, 2017; Star News:
Southport’s Nurse Williams served in WWI

January 31, 2018; State Port Pilot:
World War I stories part of monument effort

Keep current on published stories by viewing the News section of the website.

Thank you for your continued support!

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Nearly six years

2011 – 2017

It’s hard to believe that the Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range has its roots in a project that began nearly six years ago.


In May 2011, the Landscape/Grounds Committee of Caswell Dunes held a workday that included volunteers in the neighborhood. This group of people stopped to consider the structure that they traveled past almost daily. And so the discussion began.

Is it an eyesore? A piece of history? Should it be saved? What is a bunker anyway?


The volunteers reached out to Jim McKee, Historical Interpreter at the Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson Historical Site, asking him to visit and perhaps advise us as to what this structure is.

“When we think of World War I, we tend to think of Europe and trench warfare,” McKee said. “You don’t hear as much about how our boys got ready over here to go over there. The last World War I veteran died earlier this year. This is significant.”

[Note: Jim McKee was referring to Frank Buckles, the last remaining World War I veteran, dying at age 110 in February 2011.]

Jim McKee and people from the NC State Historical Preservation Office visited.


Word was received in early January that the rifle pit may be added to the Fort Caswell application for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. But $1640 was required. The Caswell Dunes Special Interest Group organized funding.

Fundraising, including the first annual Kentucky Derby Day, began the first Saturday in May.

December 31, 2013, the Fort Caswell Historic District and the dis-contiguous Rifle Range Target Pit was officially added to the National Register of Historic Places.


The second annual Kentucky Derby-themed fundraiser was planned and held.


The Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range, Inc was founded as a non-profit with 501(c)(3) status on March 17, 2015, with a mission to stabilize and preserve the Fort Caswell Rifle Range.


Trees pressing against the north wall were removed and core drilling performed. Structural engineer Brian Ross along with the assistance of Paul Shivers presented the final engineering report November 29, 2016.

The annual Kentucky Derby Day fundraiser included the World War I Wall of Honor, displaying pictures and stories of WWI ancestors sent in by people in the community and beyond.

Fort Caswell Rifle Range was chosen as one of the most threatened historic places for 2016 in the Wilmington and the Lower Cape Fear region.


  • A contractor must be found to plumb the tilted wall.
  • Additional funds must be raised.
  • After the passageway wall is stabilized, the lintels (two doorways) need repaired and the cracks need filled with epoxy.
  • A web site was established with the following name
  • An email address was also established:
  • Business cards were ordered.


The centennial of the Fort Caswell Rifle Range.

For more details about the past six years, visit the Stabilization page.

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Notable expenses

$1640 – Registering on ‘National List of Historic Places’
$400 – Obtaining 501(c)(3) status
$3200 – Tree Removal
$1425 – Hydrological Study
$4850 – Engineering Study
$1400 – Insurance

Future needs

Straighten passageway wall
Repair lintels
Repair cracks
Seal inside walls

Read the story

Setting the goal

Paul Shivers, our project engineer, is searching for contractor(s) to offer quotes for straightening the passageway wall.

 The following funds are intended and reserved for signage at the target pit and firing line and are not included in the funds as shown on the thermometer:

Thank you for your support! Visit our Fundraising page.

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Funds needed for stabilization efforts

The Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range are working quickly to detail the accomplishments completed to date on the stabilization efforts and the funds used for the work that the volunteers could not complete on their own. See for a chronology beginning in 2011. The Friends believe it’s already been an amazing transformation! But there’s still a lot of work to do.



One of the goals for this website is detailing the work not yet completed and funds needed to allow donors to see how their donations will be used. Lee Hinnant, staff writer for The State Port Pilot has written about the proposed repairs, which could total $30,000 to $50,000 to save this important and unique structure from WWI.

Range repairs are proposed

The Friends will be updating the fundraising page and thermometer soon and thanking our previous donors – there are many. Thank you for your continued support!

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