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Fort Hood will be renamed after Latino Four-Star General Richard Cavazos.
Fort Hood will be renamed after Latino Four-Star General Richard Cavazos. Photo: Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images

Fort Hood will be renamed after U.S. Army’s first Latino Four-Star General

The army base will be named after retired Gen. Richard Cavazos, known for his heroics during the Korean War.

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The country’s largest active-duty armored military base, Fort Hood, is set to be renamed after the Army’s first Latino Four-Star General, Richard Cavazos, known for his leadership during the Korean War, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. 

It’s a change that is set to come in early 2024, once the name change is finalized. 

Cavazos will replace the longstanding namesake of John Bell Hood, a Confederate General who led an army against the U.S. during the Civil War. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin announced the change in a memo to top officials at the Pentagon. 

“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 a statement about Fort Hood’s renaming.  

The Army agreed to the recommendation of renaming it to Fort Cavazos, making it the first time Fort Hood has honored a Latino service member in its over half-century existence. The new name was also a recommendation from the Naming Commission that Congress created to suggest new names or removal of names and symbols that commemorate Confederate figures. 

This past May when Cavazos was recommended for the name change, Texas U.S. Representative and San Antonio-born, Joaquin Castro was at the front of the push for Cavazos to be the one to get the honor.

"Throughout our nation’s history, Hispanic and Latino service members have served with valor and distinction — despite, at times, facing discrimination at home and abroad," Castro said. 

The renaming is a result of the 2021 Defense Authorization Act, in which they ordered the removal of all imagery, titles, and statues that in any way "honor or commemorate the Confederate States of America." It is all part of a plan for the commission to make the DOD rename over 1,111 facilities. Currently, there are eight other bases that are named after Confederate figures and are also expected to be renamed.

Born in Kingsville, Texas during the Great Depression, Cavazos grew up on his family’s ranch. He demonstrated early interest in the military by enrolling in the ROTC program after high school at what is currently known as Texas Tech University. 

One of his first acts of heroism that got him some attention was during the Korean War, when according to the Naming Commission, returned to a battlefield during a fight over five times to retrieve his fellow wounded soldiers. For this, he earned the nation’s second-highest military honor for valor, the Distinguished Service Cross. 

He became a professor of Military Science at his alma mater years after the Korean War. He then earned another Distinguished Service Cross during the Vietnam War where he had received the rank of lieutenant colonel after leading soldiers through a surprise attack and then organizing a counter-attack that exposed their enemies and thus exposing himself to a hostile fight. 

Cavazos officially became a four-star general in 1982, where he was put in charge of training, sustaining, and deploying all soldiers at that time. He retired in 1983 after almost 33 years in the service. He retired to San Antonio where he remained until his death in 2017. 

He ended his career with two Legions of Merit, a Silver Star, five Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart, among other medals for service in war and peacetime. 

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus also pushed for Cavazos in a letter to the naming commission. 

“He overcame racism and other obstacles through his 33 years of service and eventually led the U.S. Army Forces Command, making him one of the highest-ranked Army officials of his time,” the letter read.

Naming Fort Hood after a Latino Texas native fulfills the Congressional Naming Commission's plan of hopefully inspiring service members from multicultural communities by giving military facilities such as Hood, according to the memo's reference to the words of Naming Commission Chair and Admiral Michelle M. Howard, "proud new names that are rooted in their local communities and that honor American heroes whose valor, courage, and patriotism exemplify the very best of the United States military.”

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