Fort Pickett, a National Guard base near Blackstone, Virginia, this week will be the first Army post to change its name under a congressionally mandated policy to purge public references to the Confederacy in the U.S. military.
At a ceremony Friday, it will be renamed Fort Barfoot in honor of Col. Van T. Barfoot, who was awarded the Medal of Honor in World War II and later served in Korea and Vietnam during a 34-year Army career.
Located about 60 miles southwest of Richmond, Fort Pickett is one of nine Army installations being redesignated by the Naming Commission. It was initially named for Confederate Maj. Gen. George Pickett, best remembered as one of the commanders of Pickett’s Charge, a futile attack during the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg.
Col. Barfoot received the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor, for his actions in Italy as a sergeant in the 45th Infantry Division during World War II.
“It is such a tremendous honor to name an installation where military forces train to defend our freedoms in honor of Col. Van T. Barfoot,” Army Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the adjutant general of Virginia, said in a statement. “His magnificent military career was marked by heroism and decades of selfless service to our nation, and his legacy will serve as an inspiration for current and future generations of service members.”
In a statement, Col. Barfoot’s family expressed extreme pride in the honor.
“He was devoted to serving God, family and this great nation not only during his Army career, but until his death in 2012,” said Tom Barfoot, the colonel’s son. “He wanted people to know that his award of the Medal of Honor was not just representative of him, but of all the men and women of this nation who sacrificed to meet our country’s call.”
Col. Barfoot later became an Army aviator and is part of the Army Aviation Hall of Fame at Fort Rucker, Alabama.
Under the same policy that mandated the name change, Fort Rucker will be renamed Fort Novosel after Michael J. Novosel, an Army helicopter pilot awarded the Medal of Honor after evacuating 29 South Vietnamese soldiers who were surrounded by hundreds of North Vietnamese troops in October 1969.
• Mike Glenn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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