Texas’ Fort Hood, the largest active-duty armored military post in the U.S., is set to be renamed Fort Cavazos after a four-star general in the U.S. Army.
Located in Bell County, Fort Hood houses around 40,000 soldiers. It was permanently established in 1950 and was named after Gen. John Bell Hood, the commander of the Confederate Army’s Texas brigade during the Civil War.
But it will now bear the name of Gen. Richard Cavazos, a native of Texas who served in the Korean and Vietnam wars.
Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin announced the pending change Thursday in a memo to top Pentagon officials.
“The names of these installations and facilities should inspire all those who call them home, fully reflect the history and the values of the United States, and commemorate the best of the republic that we are all sworn to protect,” Austin said in the memo.
Federal officials have until January 1, 2024, to fully implement the commission’s recommended name changes.
The commission has recommended that the Department of Defense rename 1,111 installations and facilities. Aside from Fort Hood, eight other military bases that derive their names from Confederate figures are slated to be renamed.
The push to rename Fort Hood and other military installations bearing the names of various figures associated with the Confederacy did not proceed without disagreement.
In 2020, when calls were being made to rename military bases with confederate-related names, then-President Donald Trump resisted, tweeting:
“These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom. The United States of America trained and deployed our HEROES on these Hallowed Grounds, and won two World Wars. Therefore, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations.”
One Twitter user shared his disagreement in reply to a news report about Fort Hood’s renaming.
“This is weak. Let the name stand. Remember our history and learn from it. The Good and the bad,” the user wrote.
Another Twitter user echoed the same sentiments.
“We used to [be] proud of our history, it is important because it is why we are here today,” she wrote. “Leave it alone. The entire world has a dirty past back to the garden of Eden. Don’t erase the mistakes, learn from them.”
Coryell County Judge Roger Miller expressed apprehension about changing the name, suggesting, “The overwhelming response I have heard from people is to leave the name alone. … That has been the majority response from Coryell County people that I have talked to.”
“For 80 years, Fort Hood has had that name, and it hasn’t been an issue,” Miller continued. “In another 80 years, norms in society may change and people at that time could be faced with having to rename the base again.”
Gen. Cavazos had deep ties to Texas during his life, being born in Kingsville, Texas, and earning a Bachelor of Science degree in geology from Texas Tech in 1951. He was a distinguished graduate of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program.
In Korea as a first lieutenant, Cavazos earned the Distinguished Service Cross – the U.S. military’s second-highest award for valor – for repeatedly returning to a battlefield to personally evacuate wounded soldiers with gun fighting around him, according to the Naming Commission.
In Vietnam, he earned another Distinguished Service Cross by attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel after leading soldiers through an ambush, organizing a counter-attack that repelled enemy forces, and exposing himself to enemy fire numerous times.
Later, when Cavazos became the U.S. army’s first Hispanic brigadier general in 1973, one of his roles was commanding soldiers based out of Fort Hood.
He became the army’s first Hispanic four-star general in 1982 and was put in charge of sustaining, training, and deploying all the forces that the army could deploy at the time.
Cavazos retired in 1984 after a 33-year career in the army. He spent his retirement in San Antonio before his death in 2017.
“Richard Cavazos’s service demonstrates excellence at every level,” the Naming Commission wrote in a summary of the late four-star general’s career. “His 20th-century service will inspire soldiers as they continue those traditions of excellence into the 21st.”