Camp Mackall dedicates facility to long-time range official, Vietnam veteran
July 17, 2012
The Master Sgt. Lowell Stevens Cadre Professional Development Center was formally named and dedicated during a ceremony May 10 on Camp Mackall's Rowe Training Facility in Hoffman, N.C.
The 11,200-square-foot facility hosts a library, language lab, modest fitness center and overnight sleep quarters, all of which will be used by special-operations instructors and support personnel who do not have the time to travel home for a night's sleep between training events. These Soldiers support U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School courses and programs such as Army Special Operations Selection and Assessment and the Special Forces Qualification Course.
On a clear, quiet day at the Fort Bragg special-operations training area, friends and Family of Stevens gathered to remember his contributions to the Army. Outside the new center, the Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 1st Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne) unveiled the building's official dedication plaque, laid a memorial wreath in Stevens's honor and shared with each other some of the many stories Stevens had shared with them over the years.
Lowell W. Stevens, Sr., who passed away on Jan. 26, 2011, was known as the "unofficial, official" historian of Camp Mackall and its surrounding area. As a U.S. Army Special Forces noncommissioned officer, Stevens served in Vietnam in the 1960s during several tours as a heavy-weapons sergeant, intelligence sergeant, Mobile Strike Force company commander, reconnaissance team leader and airborne controller. Following his retirement from active-duty service in 1980, he spent 23 years as a civilian employee for Fort Bragg's Range Control department, where he managed training on Camp Mackall, including on its drop zone and airfield.
"When you look at some of the names associated with Camp Mackall, such Medal of Honor winners Bob Howard and Ola Mize, as well as Nick Rowe, for whom this facility is named, it's very humbling," said Lt. Col. George M. Bond during the ceremony. "Well today, Master Sgt. Lowell Stevens joins this pantheon of Special Forces heroes." Bond, who was then the 1st Battalion commander in charge of managing several parts of the year-long SFQC, is now the SWCS G-3 or senior operations officer.
"[Stevens] spent six years in Vietnam, receiving the Vietnam Service Medal with 16 campaigns out of a total of 17; this is equivalent to nine present-day rotations to Afghanistan or Iraq," Bond said. "He received three Silver Stars, the third-highest award for gallantry in action, and six Bronze Stars, one for valor."
Bond said Stevens's ongoing work at Camp Mackall and support to Special Forces Soldiers will be remembered throughout the Army's special-operations community.
"Throughout Master Sgt. Stevens's career, both in and out of uniform, he trained Soldiers. As a senior NCO and Special Forces team leader, and through his support to training out here. Our Cadre Professional Development center was a logical choice to bear his name," Bond said.
Bud O'Connell, who served with Stevens in Vietnam and maintained a close friendship with him for more than 41 years, spoke highly of Stevens during the ceremony.
"He was a man who stood by his convictions," O'Connell said. "He told me one time that the only thing he ever wanted to be was in Special Forces and out at Camp Mackall."
Eugene Piasecki, of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command History Office at Fort Bragg, also spoke during the dedication ceremony.
"He was a true warrior and a great Soldier. Lowell was always quick to tell you he was just a hillbilly from West Virginia, but his Family and friends knew him as a man of quick wit, intelligence, passion and humility," Piasecki said.
Stevens was proud to be the son of a World War II veteran and the father of an 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper, Piasecki said.
"Dedicating a building is normally a two-year process, and we've been able to accomplish this in about a year," Bond said. "As the unofficial historian for Camp Mackall, and as a labor of love, Lowell collected and compiled the history of Camp Mackall. With the dedication of this building today in his memory, he becomes a part of that lore and history."