Virginia Army base renamed in honor of Native American war hero; first of 9 Army bases to drop Confederate name

An Army base in Blackstone, Virginia, officially changed its name from “Fort Pickett” to “Fort Barfoot” Friday in honor of Col. Van Barfoot, a World War II Medal of Honor recipient.

Earlier this year, the Pentagon began the process of renaming nine Army bases, and hundreds of other items, which had names honoring the Confederacy. The decision to do so was handed down by the Naming Commission, which was created in 2021 for this purpose.

“Fort Pickett is the first of nine Army installations to be redesignated this year, and I could not think of a more fitting soldier to have the first honor,” director of the Army National Guard, Lt. Gen. Jon Jensen, said in a ceremony Friday. “Thanks to this historic renaming in honor of one of America’s great heroes, members of the Army and our country will surely know of the impact Col. Barfoot had on our nation.”

Fort Barfoot redesignation ceremony
The Virginia National Guard’s Fort Pickett is officially redesignated Fort Barfoot, in honor of Col. Van T. Barfoot, a World War II Medal of Honor recipient with extensive Virginia ties, during a ceremony on March 24, 2023, at the Blackstone Army Airfield near Blackstone, Virginia.  

U.S. National Guard/Mike Vrabel


The Naming Commission is an independent panel created by Congress tasked with reviewing and renaming military assets bearing the names of Confederate leaders.

Fort Barfoot is the only one of the nine being redesignated which is a National Guard installation, according to the Virginia National Guard. 

Barfoot’s children attended Friday’s ceremony, along with representatives from Virginia-based Native American tribes and the Choctaw Nation — the tribe that his maternal grandmother was a member of.

“Our family is so proud of the man we called Dad, Granddad, and Great Granddad, for the love he shared, the example he set and his life of service to others,” Barfoot’s daughter, Margaret Nicholls, said.

On May 9, Fort Hood will become the next Army base to receive an official name, officials announced Friday. It will be renamed in honor of Gen. Richard Edward Cavazos, a Texas-born Korean and Vietnam war hero.

“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,” said Lt. Gen. Sean Bernabe in a statement.

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