If Not Now, When

There is considerable discussion about renaming U.S. Army bases. Some say maintaining the names of the posts titled after Confederate generals is protecting the country’s and especially the South’s history. Others argue the U.S. Army should not label military installations after officers who violated their oaths and fought against the Union during the Civil War. They say retaining these names only honors what the officers fought for: slavery and White supremacy. Keeping these titles neglects the nation’s heroes of the past 155 years who fought in World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq. Overlooking these men and women erases their contributions and ignored real heroes in favor of traitors and racists.

President Trump threatened to reject the defense bill if it contains a provision that would strip the names of Confederate generals from U.S. military bases. Trump said the amendment sponsored by Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts “will lead to the renaming (plus other bad things!) of Fort Bragg, Fort Robert E. Lee, and many other Military Bases from which we won Two World Wars.” Trump declared he would “not even consider” renaming the bases, calling them “part of a great American heritage.”

However, there are many soldiers whose deeds make them worthy of replacing the forts named for Confederate officers.

Alabama:

Current Name:

Possible Replacements:

  • Oliver W. Dillard – Major General Dillard was the fifth black officer in the U.S. Army to attain this rank. He was a member of the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame and Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame. Dillard was the first black graduate of the National War College. He also served as the first black general officer in the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, the first U.S. Army Forces Command Deputy Chief of Staff, Intelligence, and the first black Deputy Chief of Staff, Intelligence for the U.S. Army Europe.
  • Rodney J. Evans – Sergeant Evans received the Medal of Honor (MOH) while serving in Vietnam. Evans died protecting other members of his unit from a land mine by covering the mine with his body.
  • William C. Gorgas – Surgeon General Gorgas was an Army physician and the 22nd Surgeon General of the Army. He is known for his work in Florida, Havana, and at the Panama Canal in stopping the transmission of yellow fever and malaria by controlling the mosquitoes that carry these diseases. The measures he initiated as the head of the Panama Canal Zone Sanitation Commission saved thousands of lives and contributed to the successful construction of the Canal.
  • Frank McIntyre – Major General McIntyre was the long -time Chief of the Bureau of Insular Affairs. McIntyre played a significant role in the governance of the Philippines and Puerto Rico.
  • Paul Bolden – Sergeant Bolden was awarded the MOH for his bravery in the Battle of the Bulge. Bolden single-handedly killed thirty-five German SS troops. Although wounded he continued the attack until running out of ammunition.
  • Charles Davis – Captain Davis was as an infantry officer on Guadalcanal Island in WWII. He volunteered to reach units trapped by Japanese machine-gun fire. The following day, he volunteered to lead an assault on enemy positions holding up the advance. He received the MOH.
  • Robert Le Bullard – Lieutenant General Bullard fought in the American Western Frontier and the Philippines. In WWI, he commanded the 1st Infantry Division (“The Big Red One”) during the Battle of Cantigny.

Georgia:

Current Names:

  • Fort Benning is named after Henry L. Benning, who was a brigadier general in the Confederate Army. The post was renamed to Fort Benning in 1922.
  • Fort Gordon is named in honor of John Brown Gordon, who was a major general in the Confederate Army. Camp Gordon was approved as the name for a WWII division training camp which began construction in July 1941. On March 21, 1956, the post was renamed Fort Gordon.

Possible Replacements:

  • Alexander Ramsey Nininger, Jr. – Second Lieutenant, Nininger voluntarily joined a unit which was under heavy attack by a larger Japanese force. He charged enemy positions and attacked with rifle fire, grenades, and bayonet. Although wounded three times, he continued his attack until he was killed. He was the first MOH Recipient of WWII.
  • William Maud Bryant – Sergeant Bryant led a company of South Vietnamese troops during an attack by North Vietnamese forces until being fatally wounded by enemy fire. For his actions during the battle, Bryant was awarded the MOH.
  • Harold Bascom Durham, Jr. – Second Lieutenant Durham received the MOH while serving as an Artillery Forward Observer in Vietnam. When the enemy attacked US forces, he called-in artillery fire on the enemy and provided first aid to the wounded. Although, mortally wounded he continued to call-in the artillery fire.
  • James Armitt Scott, III – Lieutenant Colonel Scott served two tours in Vietnam as an aviator. In one operation his attack helicopter was struck multiple times and he was wounded. He returned to base camp, exchanged his damaged ship for another, and returned to the battle. That gunship was also hit, and he was again wounded. For his heroism in multiple battles, he was awarded two Purple Hearts, the Air Medal for Valor, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Silver Star, and the Distinguished Service Cross.

Louisiana:

Current Names:

  • Camp Beauregard is named for Louisiana native and Confederate General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard. General Beauregard was rated as a competent commander by Alan Axelrod in Generals South Generals North. Reestablished in 1940. The Louisiana Army National Guard uses the camp.
  • Fort Polk is named for the Right Reverend Leonidas Polk, an Episcopal Bishop and Confederate General. Established in 1941.

Possible Replacements:

  • Douglas Bernard Fournet – Lieutenant Fournet was posthumously awarded the MOH for  advancing uphill against enemy positions in the A Shau Valley in Vietnam. His platoon encountered intense sniper fire, which stopped their advance. A soldier discovered an enemy mine covering the route of advance and warned his comrades. Realizing that the enemy would also be alerted, Lieutenant Fournet ordered his men to take cover and ran toward the mine. He used his body as a shield as he attempted to slash the control wires from the enemy positions to the mine. As he reached for the wire, the mine was detonated and killed him.
  • Ron Chatelain – Chatelain is the most decorated soldier in Louisiana history. Lieutenant Chatelain was leading a squad when they encountered a large group of North Vietnamese troops. The enemy fired rocket grenades at the helicopter when his squad landed. He was hit twice. Despite his own wounds, he got eleven wounded men on the chopper to be evacuated. Although he was hit two more times as he led the remainder of his squad and called in artillery to put down the enemy. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, along with two Silver Stars, two Bronze Stars, and five Purple Hearts.

North Carolina:

Current Name:

  • Fort Bragg is named for Confederate General Braxton Bragg. Bragg was an American army officer during the Second Seminole War and Mexican American War. Bragg was rated between a losing and competent commander by Axelrod. Camp Bragg was renamed Fort Bragg, to signify becoming a permanent Army post, on September 30, 1922

Possible Replacements:

  • Lorenzo Dow Brown, William H. Jones, and William McBryar Brown received the MOH in the Indian Wars.
  • Gordon Johnston – Johnston received the MOH during the Philippine Insurrection. He voluntarily took part in and was wounded during an assault on the enemy’s works.
  • Charles W. Ray – Ray received the MOH during the Philippine Insurrection. He captured a bridge with his detachment, held it against a superior enemy force, and permitted the army to cross.
  • Robert Lester Blackwell – Blackwell received the MOH in WWI. When his platoon was surrounded by the enemy, he volunteered to carry a message calling for reinforcements. He was killed as he tried to get through the heavy shell and machinegun fire.
  • Samuel Iredell Parker – Second Lieutenant Parker received the MOH in WWI. Parker led his platoon in an attack on an enemy position firing on two brigades. The men followed Parker through enemy rifle and machinegun fire and captured the enemy position. The next day, Parker led his command through heavy fire and closed a gap in the line.
  • Ray E. Eubanks – Sergeant Eubanks received his MOH in WWII. While moving to relieve a platoon isolated by the enemy, his company encountered a strong enemy position Eubanks was ordered to attack the enemy to permit the advance. Eubanks maneuvered over terrain swept by intense fire to get close to the enemy position and opened fire. Although wounded and with a broken rifle, he charged the enemy, used his weapon as a club, and killed four of the enemy before he was killed.
  • Michael William Stout – Sergeant Stout received the MOH for his actions in Vietnam. Stout was with other soldiers when an enemy grenade was thrown into their bunker. Stout picked up the grenade and started to run out of the bunker. The grenade exploded. He held the grenade close to his body, shielded its blast, and protected other soldiers from injury or death.

Texas:

Current Names:

  • Fort Hood is named after Confederate General John Bell Hood, commander of the Texas Brigade and racist who believed “negroes” were an inferior race. General Hood was rated as a losing commander by Axelrod. Establish January 15, 1942.
  • Camp Swift – currently owned by the Texas Army National Guard.

Possible Replacements:

  • George Lawson Keene – Keene was the most decorated American soldier in WWI. Corporal Keene  organized and led a group of American and French soldiers against an enemy strong point. Keene rushed forward ahead of his men, hurled a hand grenade in the trenches, subdued a difficult enemy post, and captured an officer with maps of enemy positions. He received the Distinguished Service Cross.
  • Audie Murphy – Murphy was one of the most decorated American soldiers of WWII. He received every military combat award from the U.S. Army. Murphy received the MOH for single-handedly holding off a company of German soldiers for an hour at the Colmar Pocket in France and then leading a successful counterattack while wounded and out of ammunition.
  • Marcario Garcia –Sergeant Garcia was awarded a MOH for his actions in WW II. He was the first Mexican immigrant to win the medal.
  • Roy Benavidez – Master Sergeant Benavidez received the MOH for performing a series of daring and courageous actions in Vietnam. When a Special Forces patrol was surrounded by an NVA infantry battalion, Benavidez heard the radio appeal for help and voluntarily boarded a helicopter to respond. Armed only with a knife, he jumped from the helicopter with his medical bag and ran to the trapped patrol. Benavidez. During the rescue he exposed himself to withering enemy fire, refused to be stopped despite severe wounds, and saved the lives of at least eight men. He had thirty-seven bullet, bayonet, and shrapnel wounds from the six-hour fight with the enemy battalion.
  • Oveta Culp Hobby – Colonel Women’s Army Corps and first secretary of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

Virginia:

Current Names:

  • Fort Lee is named for Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Lee was rated from a winning to a standout commander by Axelrod. Established on July 15, 1917.
  • Fort Pickett is a Virginia Army National Guard installation. The installation is named for Confederate General George Pickett. Pickett was rated as a competent commander by Axelrod. Established in 1942.
  • Fort A.P. Hill is named for Virginia native and Confederate Lieutenant General A. P. Hill. Established June 11, 1941.

Possible Replacements:

  • Matthew Ridgway – General Ridgway was Supreme Allied Commander Europe and the nineteenth Chief of Staff of the U. S. Army. He fought with distinction during WWII, where he was the Commanding General of the 82nd Airborne Division and commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
  • Douglas MacArthur – General Douglas MacArthur was Field Marshal of the Philippine Army, Chief of Staff of the U. S. Army, and Supreme Commander, Southwest Pacific Area in WWII.  He received the MOH for his service in the Philippines campaign. During WWI, he attained the rank of brigadier general and was again nominated for a MOH. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross twice and the Silver Star seven times. For his defense of the Philippines, MacArthur was awarded the MOH.
  • George S. Patton – General Patton commanded the U.S. Seventh Army in the Mediterranean in WWII and the U.S. Third Army in France and Germany after the Allied invasion. Patton led a U.S. invasion of Casablanca. He commanded the U.S. Seventh Army during the invasion of Sicily. Patton led the Third Army in a rapid armored drive across France. The Third Army relieved American troops at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge.
  • Ann Elizabeth Dunwoody General Dunwoody was the first woman in U.S. military history to become a four-star officer. Dunwoody became the Army’s top-ranking female when she was promoted to lieutenant general and became the Army’s Deputy Chief of Staff, G-4 (logistics). She was Commanding General, U.S. Army Materiel Command.

Resources:

Medal of Honor Recipients for North Carolina

Axelrod, Alan. Generals South Generals North, Guilford, Connecticut, Lyons Press, 2011.

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