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Texas Army base Fort Hood is renamed for Hispanic 4-star general Richard Cavazos

Traffic flows past a welcome sign at Fort Hood, which is being renamed in honor of Richard Edward Cavazos, the Army's first Hispanic four-star general.
Tony Gutierrez
/
AP
Traffic flows past a welcome sign at Fort Hood, which is being renamed in honor of Richard Edward Cavazos, the Army's first Hispanic four-star general.

One of the U.S. military's largest bases has been renamed after the Army's first Hispanic four-star general.

Fort Hood, located about 70 miles north of Austin, Texas, was redesignated on Tuesday as Fort Cavazos in honor of the late Gen. Richard Edward Cavazos, a Texas native who served in the Korean and Vietnam wars.

"General Cavazos' combat proven leadership, his moral character and his loyalty to his Soldiers and their families made him the fearless yet respected and influential leader that he was during the time he served, and beyond," Lt. Gen. Sean Bernabe, III Armored Corps Commanding General, said in a statement.

"We are ready and excited to be part of such a momentous part of history, while we honor a leader who we all admire," Bernabe added.

The redesignation is part of an effort by the Department of Defense to rename military bases and other sites with titles linked to members of the Confederacy.

A slew of military installations and nine Army bases are getting new names, including Fort Hood, which was named after the Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood, who commanded troops during the Civil War.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other supporters had urged the military to rename the base after Cavazos, who was raised in Kingsville, Texas, and commanded troops at Fort Hood.

Born to Mexican American parents, Cavazos was commissioned into the Army in 1951 after graduating from Texas Technical University and later went to fight in the Korean War. There, he was a member of the Borinqueneers, a famed unit of mostly Spanish-speaking Puerto Rican soldiers. He later led troops in the Vietnam War.

Cavazos earned the Silver Star and two Distinguished Service Cross awards for his service during the two conflicts — for actions such as evacuating wounded soldiers before having his own injuries treated during the Korean War and exposing himself to enemy fire while leading attacks in the Vietnam War.

"I truly believe that a lot of us got home because of the way he conducted himself," Melvin "Brave" Brav, who served under Cavazos, told the San Antonio Express-News.

Cavazos eventually ascended to the rank of four-star general and led the U.S. Army Forces Command, making him one of the highest-ranked Army officials at the time.

He died in 2017 at age 88 after struggling with Alzheimer's disease.

Advocates say they hope the installation's new name will also usher in a new culture at the troubled base. An official review following the 2020 murder of Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillén found that leadership at the base was "permissive of sexual harassment and sexual assault" and led to the punishment of 14 officials.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: May 10, 2023 at 12:00 AM EDT
An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Cavazos was commissioned into the Army after graduating high school. In fact, it was after he graduated from Texas Technical University.
Joe Hernandez
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