KILLEEN, Texas -- The U.S. Department of Defense is set to change the name of Texas' Fort Hood, America's largest active-duty armored military post, to pay homage to a four-star Hispanic general instead of its original namesake, a Confederate general.
Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin announced the pending change Thursday in a memo to top Pentagon officials and agreed to a recommendation that the base be called Fort Cavazos. That name was previously recommended by the Naming Commission, which Congress created to suggest new names or removal of names and symbols that commemorate Confederate figures.
Federal officials have until Jan. 1, 2024, to finalize the transition. The change is part of a broader movement from the naming commission to have the DOD rename 1,111 installations and facilities. Eight other military bases that derive their names from Confederate figures are also slated to have their names changed.
"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.
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Fort Hood houses around 40,000 soldiers. It was permanently established in 1950 and was named after Gen. John Bell Hood, who spearheaded the Confederate Army's Texas brigade at the time of the Civil War. The fort is in Bell County, where 26.5% of residents are Hispanic.
The new name will honor Gen. Richard Cavazos, the first Hispanic four-star general in Texas.
Born during the Great Depression, Cavazos grew up on his family's Texas ranch. From an early age, he showed devotion to the Army by enrolling in the ROTC program at what is now Texas Tech University immediately after high school. The first act that got him noticed was during the Korean War, when he returned to a raging battlefield five times to retrieve his fellow wounded soldiers, according to the Naming Commission. For his actions, he earned the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation's second-highest military honor for valor.
Years later, he returned to his original ROTC program, but as a professor of military science. But that wasn't the end of his time on the battlefield. In the Vietnam War, Cavazos frequently led the front of his infantry battalion. His actions in Vietnam earned him another service cross.
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