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Fort Cavazos Redesignation
FORT HOOD REDESIGNATED TO
FORT CAVAZOS MAY 9
On May 9, 2023, our installation was redesignated Fort Cavazos in honor of Gen. Richard Edward Cavazos, a Texas-born hero of the Korean and Vietnam wars.
The post was one of nine U.S. Army installations being redesignated based on the Naming Commission’s recommendations to remove the names, symbols, displays, monuments and paraphernalia that honor or commemorate the Confederate States of America.
“We are proud to be renaming Fort Hood as Fort Cavazos in recognition of an outstanding American hero, a veteran of the Korea and Vietnam wars and the first Hispanic to reach the rank of four-star general in our Army. General Cavazos’ combat proven leadership, his moral character and his loyalty to his Soldiers and their families made him the fearless yet respected and influential leader that he was during the time he served, and beyond,” said Lt. Gen. Sean Bernabe, III Armored Corps Commanding General. “We are ready and excited to be part of such a momentous part of history, while we honor a leader who we all admire.”
ABOUT GEN. RICHARD CAVAZOS
Fate brought Richard E. Cavazos into the American Century. But valor and leadership characterized his career of military service within it.
Cavazos was born on Jan. 31, 1929, in Kingsville, Texas, to Mexican American parents, Lauro and Thomasa Quintanilla Cavazos. His father was a World War I veteran who later became a ranch foreman of the King Ranch’s Santa Gertrudis division.
Cavazos grew up during the Great Depression and came of age during World War II. Eager to join the Army, he enrolled in the ROTC program at Texas Technical University right out of high school, and was commissioned into the Army right after graduation in 1951.
After attending the Infantry Officer Basic Course and Airborne Training, 1st Lieutenant Cavazos soon shipped to Korea, where he was the platoon leader of E Company, 2nd Battalion, 65th Infantry Regiment. The unit was known as the Borinqueneers and was primarily made up of Soldiers from Puerto Rico, many of whom only spoke Spanish.
It was during that war’s closing days that he first distinguished himself as a leader, rallying his men to make three separate charges on a well entrenched enemy position. Afterwards, he returned to the field five separate times to personally evacuate his wounded men before accepting treatment for his own injuries. Earning the Distinguished Service Cross – the nation’s second highest military honor for valor – for these actions, Cavazos had previewed the career that was to follow, characterized by personal courage, commitment to his soldiers, and dedication to his mission.
As the Korean War ended and the Cold War endured, Cavazos continued to serve the nation with distinction. During the 1950s and early 1960s, he served as a student in several Army programs for officer development, rising through the ranks and enhancing his skills. A sixth generation Texan, he also returned to the ROTC program at Texas Tech for three years as a professor of Military Science.
When the Vietnam War began, then-Lt. Col. Cavazos was ready to bring men into battle once more: he commanded 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, often fighting in the field – and frequently leading from the front.
In 1967, he was once again awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for rallying his men through an ambush, organizing a counterattack, and leading several maneuvers to repulse and destroy extensive enemy defenses, repeatedly exposing himself to enemy fire in the process. Throughout his career, Cavazos continued to combine personal valor with commitment to his troops and dedication to his missions, additionally earning two Legions of Merit, a Silver Star, five Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart, and many other medals and awards for exceptional service in war and peace.
Although he completed his career in peacetime, Cavazos continued to keep the soldiers under his command combat ready, striving to promote our nation’s security. He served in the Army’s strategic branches at the Pentagon and as Defense Attaché to the Embassy in Mexico.
Becoming the first Hispanic-American promoted to brigadier general in 1973 and continuing to rise throughout the decade, Cavazos commanded the 9th Infantry Division, and III Corps back in central Texas. In 1982, he became the first Hispanic-American to pin on four stars. His final assignment as head of the U.S. Army Forces Command fittingly summarized his career of service by placing him at the head of sustaining, training and deploying all the Army’s deployable forces.
Cavazos retired from the Army in 1984 after 33 years of service.
Never forgetting his Texas roots or his time serving there, Gen. Cavazos retired to his native state and continued to serve as a mentor to the Battle Command Training Program – an initiative to ready officers for combat leadership that Cavazos himself had started. During his 33 years of retirement, Cavazos lived in San Antonio, Texas, and was credited with mentoring many Army commanders.
He died Oct. 29, 2017, and is buried at San Antonio’s Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.
As a veteran of two modern wars and a longtime leader of soldiers, Gen. Richard Cavazos’ service demonstrates excellence at every level. His 20th century service will inspire soldiers as they continue those traditions of excellence into the 21st.
IN-DEPTH GEN. RICHARD CAVAZOS HISTORY:
Fort Hood was officially redesignated to Fort Cavazos May 9, 2023, in honor of Gen. Richard Edward Cavazos. From 1980 to 1982, Cavazos served as the III Corps commanding general.
The then-Fort Hood Sentinel published the below photo Feb. 7, 1980, of Gen. Robert Shoemaker, U.S. Army Forces Command, passing the III Corps and then-Fort Hood colors signifying command of III Corps and then-Fort Hood to its new commander, Lt. Gen. Cavazos. Cavazos took command Jan. 31, 1980.
Cavazos was described as being "the finest combat Soldier in the Army today" by Shoemaker. His assumption of command of III Corps took place on his 51st birthday. At the time of his command, Cavazos already had been awarded the Silver Star, two Distinguished Service Crosses and 29 other combat awards.
After nearly a year of preparation, Fort Hood will officially redesignate to Fort Cavazos on May 9, in compliance with the 2021 legislation that required the removal or modification of any Department of Defense assets commemorating the Confederate States of America or anyone who voluntarily served under the Confederacy.
The redesignation has raised numerous questions, including concerns about sign modifications, birth certificate updates for those born on the installation and even mail delivery.
"The re-designation of our installation to Fort Cavazos marks a new chapter in the history of the Great Place. This turn to a new page is not a transition. Instead, it is a reaffirmation of the legacy of service and sacrifice that has characterized our community since this installation was founded in 1942. General Richard Cavazos, a native son of Texas and war hero, will be our new namesake. His example is emblematic of who we were yesterday, who we are today and who we will be in the future." - Col. Chad R. Foster, U.S. Army Garrison-Fort Cavazos
THE LEGACY OF GENERAL RICHARD CAVAZOS: A CONVERSATION WITH FORMER ARMY LEADERS
Join us for an insightful conversation with former Army leaders General James D. Thurman and Lt. Col. Ed Mullen as they talk about General Richard E. Cavazos. As we delve into this distinguished military leader's legacy, you'll discover his remarkable impact on the Army and his role in shaping its future. From his early years as a cadet to his illustrious career, our guests provide a fascinating glimpse into the life and achievements of General Cavazos. So, tune in as we unravel the untold story of this remarkable Soldier and uncover the inspiration behind the re-designation of Fort Hood to Fort Cavazos.
GREAT PLACE REDESIGNATES TO FORT CAVAZOS
Fort Hood, better known as the Great Place, was officially redesignated as Fort Cavazos in tribute to Gen. Richard E. Cavazos, the first Hispanic American to earn the rank of four-star general, during a ceremony at III Armored Corps Headquarters May 9 here.
More than 400 dignitaries, military leaders, esteemed guests and community members gathered on Sadowski Parade Field to commemorate the event, share history and honor the late military leader. Several hundred more watched from remote viewing sites across the installation. The ceremony was also livestreamed to a national audience.
Commanding General III Armored Corps Lt. Gen. Sean C. Bernabe addressed the audience with praise and accolades for the military leaders and Soldiers working hard behind the scenes to make the event a success as well as the community’s continued support. He also addressed more than 60 members of the Cavazos family.
“For over eight decades, this installation has enjoyed the love and support of the Central Texas community,” he said. “A community that is quick to welcome newcomers, quick to offer a helping hand and quick to volunteer its services. For over eight decades, the Great Place has been the installation of choice nestled very tightly within a community of choice. Now, given the importance of this installation for our Army and for our nation, I can think of no better namesake than General Richard Cavazos.”
FROM CATTLE RANCH TO GENERAL: THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY OF RICHARD E. CAVAZOS
Gen. Richard Edward Cavazos was the first Hispanic four-star general in the United States Army. He was born on Jan. 31, 1929, in Kingsville, Texas, where he was also raised. He graduated from Texas Technological College, now Texas Tech University, in 1951 with a degree in geology, but he chose to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the Army.
After his college graduation, Cavazos received his commission. During the Korean War, he led the renowned 65th Infantry Regiment, also known as the Borinqueneers, the Army’s only all-Hispanic unit attached to the 3rd Infantry Division.
General Richard E. Cavazos has been called many things by his peers including mentor and hero. However, Laura Blevins, Katherine Cavazos, Rebecca Cavazos and Tommy Cavazos simply called him, Dad.
The siblings spoke about the Installation Redesignation Ceremony when Fort Hood was officially redesignated as Fort Cavazos after their late father on Tuesday.
“It was a very beautiful ceremony, especially our VIP speakers, Colonel Tucker and of course General House,” said Rebecca, the third child of Cavazos. “It was emotional. It reminded me that Soldiers from my dad’s battalion in Vietnam would come down from everywhere and celebrate my dad’s birthday. He started having some dementia — they came anyway.”
So often when traveling in Texas, you have to drive through the outskirts of a small town. In fact, Texas has more than 200 small towns.
I have always found that small towns are where someone can find the heart and soul of the country. It is where everyone knows everyone, gossip spreads faster than you think and yet, for the most part, everyone looks out for another. People there tend to be incredibly inviting and warm.
So, I jumped at the chance to visit Kingsville when I learned that this city is where Gen. Richard Cavazos, the namesake of this installation, was born and raised.
The city of Kingsville is 4.5 hours south from Fort Cavazos, just an hour or so from the Gulf of Mexico. It too is a city filled with kind people and small-town charm.
ABOUT FORT CAVAZOS
Set in more than 340 square miles of Central Texas and with the best and most expansive training facilities to be found anywhere in the U.S. Army, Fort Cavazos is the home of III Armored Corps Headquarters, 1st Cavalry Division, 1st Army Division West, 13th Armored Corps Sustainment Command and other separate brigades, tenant units and organizations – in total more than 34,500 soldiers and airmen and an additional 48,500 family members.
In addition to its active-duty role, Fort Cavazos mobilizes, trains, deploys and demobilizes 24,000 Reserve and Nation Guard Soldiers annually in support of global operations. Fort Cavazos also distinguishes itself as the largest single local-location employer in the state of Texas – with more than 4,000 civilian employees and nearly 5,000 contractors working here and, according to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Fort Cavazos' economic impact is estimated at $28.8 billion on the Texas economy (Texas Comptroller’s Memo – 2021).