The U.S. Department of Defense has announced that it is moving forward with a name change for the Army’s largest armored, active-duty military installation. Fort Hood in Killeen will be renamed after native Texan Richard E. Cavazos, the country’s first Hispanic four-star general.
Currently named after John Bell Hood, a high-ranking Confederate officer in Texas during the Civil War, the post built during World War II will be renamed Fort Cavazos by 2024.
The change is the work of a commission created by Congress within the Defense Department to rename military establishments commemorating the Confederacy. Fort Hood is one of nine military bases in the country set to be renamed. In total, 1,111 facilities are expected to be renamed.
“I fully support the efforts and recommendations of the Naming Commission on this important matter, and I am committed to implementing all of the Commission’s recommendations as soon as possible,” Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin wrote Thursday in a memo to high-ranking military officials announcing the approval.
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Each base is mandated to finish the transition to its new name by the beginning of 2024. An anticipated $21 million will be needed to make the changes at all nine bases, according to the Naming Commission. Renaming Fort Hood is expected to cost just north of $1.5 million.
Quoted by the defense secretary, the Naming Commission’s chair, Adm. Michelle M. Howard, said military facilities should inspire service members “with names or values that have meaning.”
Born in Kingsville in 1929, Cavazos was raised on a ranch in South Texas and attended Texas Tech University before serving abroad during the Korean and Vietnam wars. He received a host of military honors for his actions in combat across numerous battlefields.
Cavazos went on to serve in the Pentagon and as a defense attaché to Mexico before he became the first Hispanic American to be pinned as a four-star general in 1982. In his last post with the military, Cavazos served as the head of the U.S. Army Forces Command and was responsible for all the army’s deployable forces until his retirement in 1984.
Cavazos’ name was selected in consideration alongside eight other soldiers with long lists of accolades and stories of valor ranging from Reconstruction in the late 1800s to the Iraq invasion in 2003.
Fort Cavazos was also chosen over recommendations that included Fort Central Texas and Fort Courage.
With more than 40,000 infantry, cavalry and tank soldiers, soon-to-be Fort Cavazos will remain one of the largest active U.S. military installations in the world. It has acted as a staging ground for foreign missions since the 1990s and through the war on terror in the Middle East.
Last week Lt. Gen. Sean Bernabe took over leadership of Fort Hood, which has been embroiled in reports of sexual abuse and violence for several years.
In 2020, the remains of Spc. Vanessa Guillen were found in the Leon River outside of Killeen after she disappeared for several weeks. Guillen, who made several sexual abuse allegations during her time at the base, is believed to have been killed by a soldier who also was serving at Fort Hood.
More:Family of slain Army soldier Vanessa Guillen files $35 million suit against U.S.
Authorities suspected Spc. Aaron Robinson of killing Gullien with a hammer in an armory room at Fort Hood on April 22, 2020. Authorities said he killed himself 10 weeks later when police tried to detain him.
U.S. Army officials, after months of battling the abuse allegations on post, eventually admitted in a 2021 report that Guillen experienced sexual harassment from higher-ranking personnel and subsequent retaliatory acts for trying to address the issue with leadership at the camp.
In August, a court ruling opened the door for Guillen’s family to file a lawsuit seeking $35 million in damages from the U.S. government as a remedy for their soldier’s suffering.
Violence and drugs
In late September, Spc. Michael Moore was arrested in connection with the murder of his girlfriend at a home outside of Fort Hood. He faces a murder charge in relation to the shooting, which left the 34-year-old woman dead at the scene.
Five days later, Eri Gutberto Parra-Lopez, 25, was sentenced to six years in prison for distributing fentanyl during his time as an active-duty soldier at Fort Hood between May and July of last year. In April, Parra-Lopez pled guilty as he was accused of selling 3,150 fentanyl tablets to undercover agents in the Austin area.