Commission reveals 87 possible new names for Army installations that now honor Confederate generals
Stars and Stripes March 17, 2022
WASHINGTON — A congressionally mandated Naming Commission for military assets has revealed 87 potential new names for nine Army installations that now honor Confederate generals from the Civil War, the group announced Thursday.
Former President Dwight Eisenhower, former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell, and abolitionist Harriet Tubman are among the recommendations that the Naming Commission made after “deliberat[ing] extensively over the thousands of possible new names suggested,” according to the announcement. The commission received more than 34,000 submissions from the public.
The nine bases in question, all in former Confederate states, were named during the 1910s and 1940s amid the south’s Jim Crow era. They are Fort Polk in Louisiana, Fort Benning and Fort Gordon in Georgia, Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Lee and Fort Pickett in Virginia, Fort Rucker in Alabama, and Fort Hood in Texas.
Congress mandated a commission be formed in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, which sets annual spending and policy priorities for the Defense Department. Army and Pentagon leaders began looking at stripping bases of Confederate-linked names in 2020 amid a nationwide racial reckoning after the Memorial Day killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.
The list of recommendations also includes several of the Army's Medal of Honor recipients, such as Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe, 1st Lt. Audie Murphy, Sgt. Alvin York, and the first Black man to receive the honor, Sgt. William Carney. The list also includes George Marshall, who was Army Chief of Staff during World War II and as Secretary of State led the effort to rebuild Europe after the war, and World War II Gen. Omar Bradley, who became the first chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Alwyn Cashe, one of the most recent Medal of Honor recipients, died in 2005 after saving six soldiers from a Bradley Fighting Vehicle hit by a roadside bomb in Samarra, Iraq. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., who worked to secure his Medal of Honor, sent the commission a letter last month recommending his name for Fort Benning, where Cashe served as a drill sergeant and platoon sergeant.
Audie Murphy is credited with single-handedly fighting off dozens of Germans during World War II in France by climbing aboard a burning tank destroyer while wounded and using its machine gun. He later became a Hollywood actor and starred in “To Hell and Back,” a movie about his service during the war.
Alvin York fought in World War I and is credited with leading an attack on a German machine gun unit in France, killing 25 enemy troops and capturing 132 as prisoners. His service accomplishments were later dramatized in the 1941 film, “Sergeant York.”
William Carney, who was born into slavery, earned his medal for protecting the Union flag during the charge on Fort Wagner during the Civil War. When his unit’s color guard was fatally shot, Carney caught the flag from falling to the ground “despite suffering several serious gunshot wounds himself” and led troops to safety, according to the Army.
The commission will now spend the next several months engaging with “installation leaders, personnel and their counterparts in local communities to discuss the names” before making the final decisions, which are due to Congress on Oct. 1, according to the Thursday announcement.
The full list of names can be found at http://www.thenamingcommission.gov/names.