Army Base Changes Name To Honor Native American WWII Hero Instead Of Confederate General

The Fort Pickett Army base on Friday changed its name to Fort Barfoot, in the first of nine expected name changes for Army bases named after Confederates.

The Army National Guard installation in Blackston, Virginia, was originally named after Confederate General George Pickett, who led “Pickett’s Charge” at the Battle of Gettysburg, The New York Times (NYT) reportedPickett’s Charge is one of the most famous attacks of the Civil War and is known for being one of the war’s most climactic charges, though it proved a “monumental disaster” for the Confederate side.

Colonel Van Barfoot was a Native American who served in World War II and is a Medal of Honor recipient. “Sgt. Barfoot’s extraordinary heroism, demonstration of magnificent valor, and aggressive determination in the face of point-blank fire are a perpetual inspiration to his fellow soldiers,” Barfoot’s Medal of Honor citation reads.

“It was common for camps and forts to be named after local features or veterans with a regional connection, which many times meant bases in the South were named after Confederate soldiers,” Lieutenant General Jon A. Jensen said during Friday’s renaming event.

“Our family is extremely proud of the honor that is being bestowed on our father. He was devoted to serving God, family and this great nation not only during his Army career but until his death in 2012,” Barfoot’s son, Tom, said, according to a press release from the U.S. Army.

A Congress-established commission has recommended new names for nine military bases commemorating Confederate officers. The Department of Defense (DOD) has until the end of 2023 to complete the renaming process, according to a press release from the department. The commission recommended new names to include female, black, Hispanic and indigenous soldiers, the NYT reported. 

The process of renaming or removing hundreds of assets seen as honoring the Confederacy will cost an estimated $62 million, The Washington Post reported in September 2022.

Former President Donald Trump vetoed the annual military policy bill in 2020, which included an effort to expunge Confederacy symbols from the military, the NYT reported. Congress later overrode Trump’s veto and forced the measure through.