WASHINGTON – The Army’s first Hispanic four-star general, a hero from the battle of Ia Drang and former President Dwight D. Eisenhower are three military leaders who will be honored under the Army’s plan to eliminate commemoration of Confederate officers.
The federal commission charged with removing Confederate names from nine Army posts issued its final recommendations Tuesday, moving the Pentagon a step closer to ending its veneration of the rebel army.
The Naming Commission’s recommendations to change what is likely to be hundreds of names of military assets will be forwarded to Congress by Oct. 1. The changes are mandated to take effect by 2024. The defense secretary has the authority to change base names.
Urgency to change hundreds of names honoring Confederate soldiers followed the death of George Floyd, a Black man, who was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis in 2020. Since then, monuments to the Confederacy have been removed across the country.
“We aimed to find names that would inspire soldiers, civilians, families, the community and the nation,” retired Army Brig. Gen. Ty Seidule, vice chairman of the commission, said Tuesday. “One thing became clear: We found far, far more heroes than we had opportunities to name.”
Perhaps the highest profile change involves Fort Bragg. It will not be changed to honor an individual but rather a concept: Fort Liberty.
Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina, known as the “Home of the Airborne and Special Operations,” was named in 1918 for Braxton Bragg, a West Point graduate and Army soldier who went on to lead Confederate troops.
The other recommended changes:
- Fort Hood, Texas, will be named after Gen. Richard Cavazos, a veteran of the Korean and Vietnam Wars and recipient of two Distinguished Service Crosses. He was the Army’s first Hispanic four-star general.
- Fort Benning, Georgia, the home of Army infantry, will be named after Lt. Gen. Hal Moore and Julia Moore. Hal Moore was memorialized in a book and film for his leadership during the battle of Ia Drang in 1965, the first major battle between US and North Vietnamese troops. Moore received the Distinguished Service Cross for his battlefield heroism, which was detailed in the book “We Were Soldiers Once … and Young” and made into a film starring Mel Gibson. Julia Moore’s efforts to support the families of troops killed in that battle prompted the Army to change the way it makes death notifications.
- Fort Gordon, Georgia, will be named after Eisenhower, who was a five-star general before he was elected president.
- Fort AP Hill, Virginia, will be named after Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, who served on the front lines in the Civil War.
- Fort Lee, Virginia, will be named for Lt. Gen. Arthur J. Gregg and Lt. Col. Charity Adams, logistics officers.
- Fort Pickett, Virginia, will be named for Tech Sgt. Van T. Barfoot, a Medal of Honor recipient for heroism in World War II.
- Fort Polk, Louisiana, will be named for Sgt. William Henry Johnson, an African American soldier whose heroism in World War I was posthumously recognized with the Medal of Honor in 2015.
- Fort Rucker, Alabama, will be named for Michael Novosel, a helicopter pilot and Medal of Honor recipient.
The commission will recommend changes for hundreds of other military assets, including ships and street names. Recommendations for those names will be included in the final report, Seidule said.
Congress overrode a veto by President Donald Trump to create the commission. Trump said he wanted to retain the Confederate names in the name of history. The commission received more than 34,000 recommendations for names from the public.
Troy Mosley, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and author, said he welcomed the changes. He noted that a base built in 2022 would not be named after a Confederate general and those operated today should not honor them.
“Representation is important,” Mosley said. “If we want people to emulate the contributions of our greatest guardians, then we must uphold those examples from all races, genders and ethnicities for the world to see.”