The congressional Naming Commission announced Thursday that it has narrowed its list of potential new names for nine Army installations, including Fort Bragg.
The post will no longer be called Fort Bragg, which carries the name of Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg. Instead, the installation could be renamed for a Medal of Honor recipient with direct ties to Fort Bragg.
The commission said in a release that it has deliberated extensively over the thousands of possible new names suggested for the posts originally named in commemoration of the Confederate States of America.
“It’s important that the names we recommend for these installations appropriately reflect the courage, values and sacrifices of our diverse men and women,” retired Navy Adm. Michelle Howard, chair of the Naming Commission, said in the release. "We also are considering the local and regional significance of names and their potential to inspire and motivate our service members.”
A final selection for each post is still pending, the commission said.
“The Naming Commission has the important role of recommending names that exemplify our U.S. military and national values,” the commission states on its website. “Through numerous community engagements and thousands of direct submissions via our website, we have gained tremendous feedback and insight to help ensure the best names are recommended to Congress.”
The commission has developed a list of names it is considering for nine Army installations. For the complete list, go to thenamingcommission.gov/names.
Regarding Fort Bragg, there are 87 potential names on the list with ties to the post. They include Master Sgt. Gary Gordon and Sgt. 1st Class Randall Shughart, whose families were presented with the Medals of Honor during a 1994 ceremony at the White House. President Bill Clinton presented the medals to the soldiers’ wives.
Others include Robert Howard, who received eight Purple Hearts for his actions during 58 months of combat. He was wounded 14 times overall.
The potential names for renaming Fort Bragg also include Medal of Honor recipients Sgt. 1st Class William Bryant, Sgt. 1st Class William Joel; 82nd Airborne Division Gens. Roscoe Robinson, James Gavin and Matthew Ridgway; and Capt. Kimberly Hampton, the Army’s first woman combat pilot killed in action on Jan. 2, 2004, in Iraq.
They all served at Fort Bragg.
In September, the Renaming Commission received input from Fayetteville residents about who they would like to see Fort Bragg renamed after.
Congressman Richard Hudson, whose district includes Fort Bragg, has suggested that Fort Bragg remove its association with Confederate Gen. Bragg and instead be renamed after Bragg's Union cousin, Edward S. Bragg, as a compromise. Edward S. Bragg's name is not on the list.
“Following upcoming engagements with installation leaders, personnel and their counterparts in local communities to discuss the names, the commission will select the final names for recommendation in the naming plan due to Congress by Oct. 1, 2022," the website said.
The 2021 National Defense Authorization Act approved by Congress mandates renaming Department of Defense property that commemorates individuals who served with the Confederate Army during the Civil War. All installations with Confederate namesakes will be renamed.
Retired Gen. Dan McNeil said this is now part of U.S. code, approved in the Defense Authorization Act from a year ago. He said he already had shared his views on that.
“I don’t think it’s the smartest thing you can do to rename an Army base. I understand history,” McNeil said. “I don’t have a problem with going in a different direction. I think I’m going to back away from this until I see where it’s going. If it’s a cookbook, I don’t want to be a part of it.”
Tommy Bolton, who was a civilian assistant to the Secretary of the Army for North Carolina, said he thought the commission already had proposed a name to go forward.
"I'm not going to make any comment on that with the media," he said.
Besides Fort Bragg, the other Army installations to be renamed include Fort Rucker, Alabama; Fort Polk, Louisiana; Fort Benning and Fort Gordon in Georgia; and Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Lee and Fort Pickett in Virginia, the release said.
Congress tasked the national Naming Commission with that job.
Camp Bragg – as Fort Bragg was originally called – was established in 1918 as a field artillery installation and named after North Carolina native Braxton Bragg, an artillery officer known for his role in the 1847 Battle of Buena Vista, Mexico. He later served as a Confederate general and is associated with being a slave owner and losing battles during the Civil War.
Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.