By Suzanne Gamboa, NBC News
Gen. Richard Cavazos earned the Silver Star and Distinguished Service Cross for leading the Puerto Rican regiment “The Borinqueers” during the Korean War and later in Vietnam, along with several other honors.
“As a young lieutenant in Korea, he led his company on three separate charges of an enemy position, returned to the field five times to evacuate his wounded soldiers before allowing medics to treat his wounds for that action,” Ty Seidule, a retired Army brigadier general who is vice chair of the commission, said of Cavazos.
Cavazos, who died in 2017 at 78, was a Mexican American from Kingsville, Texas, who commanded III Corps, headquartered at Fort Hood, among other assignments.
“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 Congressional Hispanic Caucus said last summer in a letter pushing for consideration of his name to replace Hood’s.
Rep. Joaquín Castro, D-Texas, who was active in pushing the commission to consider Latinos, including Hispanics and African Americans who were not officers, said that he was grateful that the Naming Commission recommended that Fort Hood be renamed after Cavazos.
He called Cavazos a “history-making Latino who fought bravely and inspired generations of young service members to follow in his footsteps.”
“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 in a statement.
“These courageous men and women have played essential roles in our most defining battles and protected freedom across the world. I hope the new Fort Cavazos will be a welcoming community that our service members and military families are proud to call their home,” said Castro.
Latino leaders had hoped that Fort Bragg, in North Carolina, would be renamed for Medal of Honor winner Master Sgt. Roy Benavidez.
But the commission chose not to recommend a military hero’s name for Fort Bragg, home to Army’s elite forces, which is named after Braxton Bragg, a Confederate general and slave owner. It is recommending that the Army post, the largest in terms of population, be renamed Fort Liberty.
Seidule said the commission took seriously Congress’ mandate that the commission listen to local communities in deciding names. He said diverse groups of people were involved, gathered by the installation commander.
Ridding military facilities and assets of Confederate names was opposed by former President Donald Trump, who vetoed a defense spending bill in late 2020, in part because it authorized the renaming of military installations. Congress overrode his veto.
Trump had called the renamings a politically motivated attempt “to wash away history and to dishonor the immense progress our country has fought for in realizing our founding principles.”
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