Exclusive: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III visits Ft. Bragg ahead of FSU commencement

Monique John Image
Saturday, May 13, 2023
Exclusive: ABC11 one-on-one with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin  III
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is the commencement speaker for Fayetteville State and took time to talk with ABC11 and visited Fort Bragg.

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WTVD) -- Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited Fort Bragg and HBCU Fayetteville State University (FSU) ahead of his commencement speech at the university on Saturday.

Austin's visit is symbolic at both sites, as Austin is the first African American Secretary of Defense. He was also the first African American commander of the Third Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg.

ABC11 was granted an exclusive interview with Austin during this visit, during which he shared sentimental memories of his time at Fort Bragg where he held multiple roles of distinction.

"It was a special time. When you're the commander of the 18th Airborne Corps, not many human beings get to do that. I followed in the footsteps of some amazing leaders," Austin said.

The secretary also responded to some of the pushback against the upcoming transition at Fort Bragg with the renaming to Fort Liberty.

RELATED | Fort Bragg sets official date for name change ceremony

"Fort Bragg will be, will continue to be one of the most significant power projection platforms in our inventory ... So, I think we all have to focus on what this is all about and it's about the people who live and work here and what they do for our country. And I think the continued focus on liberty is a good thing," he said.

Austin will be speaking on the value of service in his address at FSU, a university where 30% of students are connected to the military. He said encouraging the public to engage in more acts of service is important to protecting democracy.

"Service across the board I think is something that all of us need to continue to emphasize -- to be a part of something that's bigger than yourself and to also to give back to the community that gave to you," Austin said.

RELATED | Fayetteville State University launching more scholarship opportunities with local endowment fund


WATCH | The history behind the naming of Fort Bragg

Fort Bragg is named after Warrenton native, Braxton Bragg, who was a general in the Confederate Army.

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