WWII base lives on as GOP building


Mark Schenck - Contributing columnist



Most local residents are aware of Scotland County’s contribution to WWII and how a quiet little Southern community helped provide glider pilots from the world’s largest glider base.

The story all began Aug. 28, 1942, when the U.S. Army activated Laurinburg-Maxton air base in Scotland County. The airbase housed the training center for our country’s glider pilots that played a significant yet less publicized role in the Allied victory in Europe.

The airborne element of the U.S. Army was responsible for the construction of Laurinburg-Maxton Air Base. The 4,644-acre base contained three 6,500- foot runways needed for launching the motor-less Gliders. At the peak of the War some 10,000 officers and enlisted men were stationed at the Laurinburg-Maxton Glider Base. The base itself contained many of the same amenities as most small cities including: a library, various shops, dentist and doctor’s offices, a hospital, dining halls, maintenance shops as well as social clubs for officers, and enlisted men.

After the war ended in 1945, many buildings at the Laurinburg-Maxton air base were sold off, moved to new locations or demolished. The Base Hospital became the Scotland Memorial Hospital. Today, the hospital is in a new, modern facility about six miles from the base.

One such building that housed part of the Laurinburg-Maxton Glider Base Hospital complex was moved into Laurinburg. Due to a fire that destroyed most of the area’s records reliable documentation on where and when the Glider Base buildings were moved is very difficult if not impossible to obtain. To the best of our knowledge this building, originally part of the base hospital complex, is now the Scotland Republican Party Headquarters.

Several improvements were made during it’s use commercially in Laurinburg, such as: hardwood flooring from a local deactivated school’s gym was used to cover the original pine plank flooring, an attached storage building, or garage, was also added.

Prior to it’s present identity the structure housed residential apartments at a different locations, then was moved to it’s current location where it was subsequently cohabited by a hair salon and used book store.

Scotland County has the distinct honor of being one of the few counties to have it’s own permanent GOP headquarters. This central facility has stimulated participation in various activities that have been responsible for a slow but continuous growth over the last decade. In fact in 2016 alone, Scotland Republican voter registration increased by 10 percent.

Scotland Republicans support and participate in community activities such as: the 2016 Laurinburg Christmas Parade with a member decorated Christmas float that depicted the traditional manger scene as well as the contemporary Christmas tree.

At the Laurelfest, we provide information, voter registration help, as well as entertainment at our Scotland Republican Party booth. The main objective of our booth is to answer questions and have some fun.

For over eight years, the ladies of the Scotland Republican Party have used money they earned from the annual fish fry to purchase Thesaurus for all third-grade students in Scotland County. To date over 3,000 books have been given to Scotland’s school children.

Scotland’s Republican Party also supplies new stuffed animals to local law enforcement officers for distribution.These stuffed animals are given by officers to comfort small children when they are caught up in stressful situations.

Each year Scotland Republicans hold the annual Lincoln, Reagan Dinner. Such notable political figures as Sen. Richard Burr, Rep. Richard Hudson, Rep.Robert Pittenger and state Sen. Tom McInnis have enlightened attendees with insight not available in the commercial media.

When there is a need the Scotland Republican Party collects newborn clothing for our new mothers in the military. When the need arises Scotland Republicans also collect food for those forced to leave a hostile relationship.

A total of two fish fry events are held every year providing funds for normal every day cost of maintaining the Scotland Republican Headquarters which has all of the financial requirements of a typical household: electric and water bills, insurance, city and county property taxes, as well as upkeep and repair.

Recently the Scotland County Republican Party hosted it’s first concealed carry class where some 14 individuals earned their concealed carry certificates. Expert instructions were given on subjects such as: safety, care and handling a firearm, areas where concealed carry is not permitted, liability, and laws affecting your responsibilities Our second class will be scheduled in the near future.

We see the Scotland Republican Headquarter’s as part of the local history and even though the building is 75 years old, built one year after the tragic “Pearl Harbor attack,”and has been moved at least twice, modified for various businesses, still the former Glider base facility remains free of major structural issues.

Many of us feel a certain pride and obligation to maintain this building for we know it would be wrong to tear down this piece of American history and local pride due to neglect. After all, aren’t we told to rebuild not waste? The Book of Isaiah 61:4: “and they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.”

I am so very pleased to inform you that finally after 14 years of making mortgage payments, we have been able to combine profits our members earned having some 28 fish fundraisers, and 14 Lincoln/Reagan dinners along with many generous donations from supporters to finally make our last mortgage payment. And as of May 22, 2017, the Scotland Republican Headquarter’s belongs to the Scotland County Republican Party debt free.Thank You” so very much Scotland County for your continuing support.

Thank you so very much Scotland County for your continuing support.

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Mark Schenck

Contributing columnist

Mark Schenck is chairman of the Scotland County Republican Party

Mark Schenck is chairman of the Scotland County Republican Party

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