The process for renaming Fort Hood has begun, as the commission to rename the post held in-person meetings on the base on June 16.
The commission held closed-door meetings, one of which included a contingent of members of the community.
Area cities Killeen, Copperas Cove, Temple and Salado had representation at the meeting along with area county judges, as did organizations such as League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), NAACP, the Innovation Black Chamber of Commerce and the Korean American Association of Killeen, according to Killeen Mayor Jose Segarra.
Segarra said he is looking forward to the process of getting communities and organizations involved in the room to help come up with a name, if the base is to be named after an individual.
“I just want to make sure that we, as a community, have some input on that,” Segarra said. “... As long as it’s something that we were able, as a community, to be part of that process, then that’s all we’re asking for.”
Keith Sledd, the executive director of the Heart of Texas Defense Alliance, told the Copperas Cove City Council on June 15 that he and HOTDA hosted the same community leaders twice two weeks ago to discuss the criteria for choosing a name.
“We took the results of those two meetings and shared them with Fort Hood,” Sledd said. “It was interesting — a lot of good discussion, a lot of good thoughts. And that will be used by Fort Hood to engage the renaming commission.”
Renaming will include not only the names of Army forts named after Confederates, but buildings, streets and anything else such as training areas named after Confederate soldiers or the Confederacy. Only individual grave markers are to be left alone.
“The only thing on For Hood that actually honors a member of the Confederacy is the name, which is after John Bell Hood,” Sledd said. “There are no other buildings or streets named after ... other than showing ‘Hood’ on anything, that’s the only thing that needs to change.”
U.S. Congress forced Fort Hood, and all other installations named after Confederate leaders or soldiers, to change their names when both chambers overrode a veto by President Donald Trump and passed the National Defense Authorization Act. The House overrode Trump’s veto on Dec. 28, 2020, and the Senate overrode it on Jan. 1.
“I think it’s time that we look at it objectively and consider the options and working with the local community ... to find a consensus candidate that we can all put forward,” said LULAC National President Domingo Garcia.
LULAC leaders held their own press conference to make public the names they wish to see Fort Hood named after — the late retired Master Sgt. Roy Benavides or the late retired Gen. Richard Cavazos, both with a rich history in the Army and both with heroics in combat situations.
Benavides was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in Vietnam by President Ronald Reagan.
Garcia called Benavides a “real life Rambo.”
Garcia said during the Vietnam War, Benavides was wounded 37 times by bullets, bayonets and shrapnel but still survived and helped save numerous lives of soldiers.
Cavazos, the first Hispanic four-star general in the Army’s history, was a former III Corps and Fort Hood commander. He also received two Distinguished Service Crosses — one for actions in the Korean War and one for actions in the Vietnam War.
AnaLuisa Tapia, the District 17 director for LULAC in Texas — which includes all local branches — said that both Benavides and Cavazos displayed the Army values in their careers.
“The question is, should it have to be renamed 30 years later,” Tapia said. “I disagree that when you find somebody with character and the core values and the integrity that he lived while in uniform and out of uniform, I pray that this stands the test of time.”
Tapia said she hopes that if either Benavides or Cavazos are selected to be the new name of Fort Hood, the other one is selected by another post.
The commission arrived at Fort Hood on June 15 and left June 17.
The commission will have hearings on all of the bases that will be renamed. It has until October to present to the U.S. Congress the criteria for selecting new names.
It then has until October of 2022 to present proposed names to the U.S. Congress.