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Renaming Fort Bragg to Fort Liberty will cost nearly $6.4 million, report says


The federal commission responsible for recommending name changes for Department of Defense installations that commemorate the Confederacy estimates it will cost nearly $6.4 million to rename Fort Bragg.

The Naming Commission in May recommended that Fort Bragg be renamed Fort Liberty. The commission also recommended new names for eight other Army posts.

In a report released earlier this month, the commission estimated it would cost just over $21 million to rename all nine Army posts. Of that amount, Fort Bragg has the highest cost, followed closely by Fort Benning, Georgia, which was estimated at $4.9 million.

The commission was mandated by the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act to identify installations and assets whose names commemorate the Confederacy.

The report released this month is one of three parts that will be submitted to Congress. This first report outlines the process the commission followed to come up with its recommended names and includes the final names that were considered for the posts.

The commission also proposed name changes for Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Rucker, Alabama; Fort Polk, Louisiana; Fort Gordon, Georgia; and Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Lee and Fort Pickett in Virginia.

Fort Bragg is named after Braxton Bragg of Warrenton. Bragg was a “slave-owning plantation owner and senior Confederate Army officer,’’ the report states. He was considered one of the worst generals of the Civil War and was “disliked in the pre-Civil War U.S. Army and within the Confederate Army by peers and subordinates alike,’’ the report says.

In May 2021, Wisconsin state Sen. Dale Kooyenga proposed renaming Fort Bragg after Braxton Bragg’s cousin, Union Gen. Edward Stuyvesant Bragg of Wisconsin. His recommendation was not considered by the commission, which would have meant that signs and other labels would not have to be changed.

The process

Between June and November 2021, the commission visited all nine posts, meeting with senior leaders, stakeholders, local community leaders and others “to gain insight into local sensitivities and input on potential candidates for renaming consideration,’’ the report states.

The commission also set up a website that allowed anyone to provide name recommendations. More than 34,000 submissions were received, the report says. 

The commission focused on the 2,380 individual names that it received, and the list was narrowed to 461 candidates. In January, the list was further reduced to 90 with 10 potential names for each post, the report says.

The list changed some as new information became available, and in March, the commission released a list of 87 names for consideration.

In May, the commission met to select its recommended names for each of the nine posts.

“Our goal was to inspire today’s soldiers and the local communities with names or values tha have meaning,’’ retired Navy Adm. and Naming Commission Chair Michelle Howard wrote in the report. “We wanted names and values that underpin the core responsibility of the military, to defend the Constitution of the United States.’’

Other names considered for Bragg

While the Naming Commission recommended that Fort Bragg be changed to Fort Liberty, it considered 10 other recommendations. They were to name the post after: 1st Lt. Vernon Baker; Master Sgt. Roy Benavidez; Staff Sgt. Felix M. Conde-Falcon; Lt. Gen. James Gavin; Master Sgt. Gary Gordon and Sgt. 1st Class Randall Shughart; Cpl. Rodolfo Hernandez; Col. Robert Howard; Gen. Colin Powell; Gen. Matthew Ridgway; and Gen. Roscoe Robinson Jr. 

The report provides the following information about each of those candidates:

• In 1945, Baker led an infantry platoon against a German stronghold in northern Italy. He silenced three enemy machine guns, an observation post and a dugout. He also provided cover fire while wounded soldiers were evacuated.

He later volunteered to lead a second advance through a minefield. He received the Distinguished Service Cross, which was upgraded to the Medal of Honor in 1997.

• Benavidez spent most of his career with the 82nd Airborne Division and Special Forces. During his first tour of duty in Vietnam, he was severely wounded by a landmine and was told he would never walk again.

When Benavidez regained his mobility, he returned to Vietnam in 1968. He responded to a distress call from a small detachment that was under attack by a 1,000-soldier enemy battalion. He joined in a six-hour battle that included hand-to-hand combat. Benavidez was wounded 37 times and was thought to be dead. He signaled that he was alive by spitting. He received the Distinguished Service Cross, which was upgraded to the Medal of Honor in 1981.

• In April 1969, Conde-Falcon was leading his platoon on a sweep operation in South Vietnam when they found an enemy battalion command post. Ordered to clear the positions following airstrikes, Conde-Falcon led his unit’s assault on the complex. He cleared four enemy bunkers using hand grenades and machine-gun fire. He was shot and killed while assaulting a fifth bunker. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. In 2014, an NDAA-ordered review found that his actions were deserving of the Medal of Honor.

• During World War II, Gavin volunteered to serve with the new Airborne infantry. He became a leader in the 82nd Airborne Division, training and leading his men at home and abroad. In Europe, Gavin earned the nickname “the jumping general” for making four combat jumps, at Sicily, Normandy, Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge. He received two Distinguished Service Crosses. In 1944, he became commander of the 82nd Airborne Division. 

After the war, he promoted racial integration in the Army.

• Gordon and Shughart were Delta Force soldiers who were deployed to Mogadishu, Somalia, as part of Task Force Ranger in October 1993 when a Black Hawk helicopter was shot down during a mission in the city. Gordon and Shughart, who were in another helicopter, repeatedly asked to be inserted to protect the downed crew. They were killed while defending the injured pilot from attacking Somali militia fighters and civilians. Both men posthumously received the Medal of Honor.

• Hernandez deployed to Korea in 1950 as part of the 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment. In May 1951, he was part of a platoon defending a hill from Chinese forces. As the platoon came under heavy attack, Hernandez remained in place and fought even though he had numerous grenade, bayonet and bullet wounds. Hernandez killed at least six enemy attackers and held his position long enough for his fellow soldiers to retake the hill. 

Hernandez was paralyzed from his wounds and taught himself to walk, talk and work again. He was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1952.

• Howard served five tours in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division, 5th Special Forces Group, and the highly classified Military Assistance Command, Vietnam – Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG).

On Dec. 30, 1968, then-Sgt. 1st Class Howard was on a rescue mission in Cambodia with a Special Forces platoon that was ambushed by a large enemy force. Despite being wounded and unable to walk, Howard for 3.5 hours exposed himself to enemy fire to administer first aid to wounded soldiers and organize a defensive perimeter. For his actions, he received the Medal of Honor in 1971 on top of his Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star and eight Purple Hearts from tours in Vietnam.

After Vietnam, Howard continued serving in Army special operations and ranks among the most highly decorated soldiers of all time.

• Powell served with the JFK Special Warfare Center & School at Fort Bragg. He served two tours in Vietnam, commanded the 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, and was the junior military assistant to two deputy secretaries of defense. He was promoted to brigadier general in 1979 and served as the assistant commander of the 4th Infantry Division before becoming senior military assistant to the secretary of defense.

In 1986, he took command of V Corps in Germany as a lieutenant general and subsequently served as the national security adviser from 1987 to 1989. Powell was promoted to general in 1989 and served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff until his retirement in 1993. He later served as secretary of state from 2001 to 2005.

• At the start of World War II, Ridgway worked in the War Plans Department. He subsequently helped form and train the 82nd Airborne Division, serving as its commander from 1942 to 1944. He also commanded the 18th Airborne Corps.

He helped plan the airborne component of the Normandy invasion. In Korea, Ridgway served as commanding general of the 8th Army from 1950 to 1951. He later served as commander-in-chief of the Far East Command, supreme allied commander in Europe, and chief of staff of the Army from 1953 to 1955.

• Robinson was the first African-American to become a four-star general in the Army, and he also oversaw the integration of women in the 82nd Airborne Division in 1978. After graduating from West Point, his first assignment was leading an all-Black airborne infantry platoon. He deployed to Korea in 1952, where he served as a platoon leader and company commander. He was twice a battalion commander in Vietnam and twice awarded the Silver Star for valor in the field.

During his career, he served in airborne units five times, culminating this service as the commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division.

His final assignment was as the United States’ representative to the NATO Military Committee.

What’s next?

The second section of the report will look at assets on the U.S. Military Academy and U.S. Naval Academy. The third section of the report will make recommendations on all Department of Defense assets that are not addressed in the first two sections of the report. The final dates when those reports must be given to Congress are pending. However, legislation that established the commission requires the final report to be given to Congress by Oct. 1.

When completed, the entire report will be posted online at thenamingcommission.gov/report; the first part is available there now.

Fort Bragg, Fayetteville, military, renaming commission, Fort Liberty