Ft. Lee is the only one of the nine installations mandated for a name change to honor two different service members. The changeover is not expected to happen until early 2024.
The Virginia War Memorial Foundation is hosting an “Insider Bus Trip” to visit Ft. Lee, including the Army Women’s Museum, the Quartermaster Museum, and the Ordnance Training Center, which is typically not available for civilian visitors.
FORT LEE — A federal panel has recommended changing Fort Lee’s name to honor two Black former military officers.
Tuesday, the Pentagon’s Naming Commission announced it would recommend the Prince George County Army post be rededicated as Fort Gregg-Adams to honor retired Lt. Gen Arthur Gregg, who left the Army as the second-highest ranked Black officer at the time, and the late Charity Adams, the first Black woman in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps and the commander of the first World War II battalion with Black women as its only members.
The commission will make its recommendations final this October.
The Virginia War Memorial highlights Adams and the story of the 6888th Postal Battalion, the only all-female, all-African-American unit that served overseas in World War II, in two livestream classes:
- Celebrating the Service of the 6888th, May 2021
- Unsung Heroes from the 6888th Postal Battalion, March 2021
Fort Lee is one of nine Army posts in the South whose names were slated to change because they commemorated Confederate heroes of the Civil War. Two other Virginia installations will also receive new names.
In a statement announcing the change, retired Navy Admiral Michelle Howard said the recommended names “embody the best of the United States Army and America.”
“We wanted names and values that underpin the core responsibility of the military, to defend the Constitution of the United States,” Howard said in the statement. “We wanted names and values that evoke confidence in all who serve. Confidence that by emulating those whose names are on the installations, we too can rise to every challenge, overcome every obstacle, achieve excellence, and, if necessary, sacrifice our lives for this country and her people.”
The new names were mandated in the 2020 Defense Authorization budget package passed by Congress.
Rep. Donald McEachin, D-4th, who pushed for the post to be renamed in Gregg’s honor, released a statement praising the name change.
“For far too long, the heroism of Black servicemembers has been inadequately recognized or celebrated,” his statement read. “Today’s announcement honors Lt. Gen. Gregg and Lt. Col. Adams’ lives of service and sacrifice, and pays homage to the incredible dedication men and women of color have shown serving our nation for generations. It is a historic moment for central Virginia, our commonwealth, and our nation.”
The South Carolina-born Gregg, who turned 94 on May 11, began his 35-year military career at Fort Lee and retired in 1981 as deputy director of logistics for the entire Army. A medal recognizing outstanding achievement in Army logistics is named for him.
Adams, who hailed from North Carolina, joined the Army in 1942 and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel, which at the time was the highest rank a woman service member could attain. She was put in charge of the 6888th Central Postal Directory in England, which was responsible for delivering mail to and from the roughly seven million soldiers fighting in World War II’s European theater.
She died in 2002 at the age of 83
Fort Lee is named for Robert E. Lee, the commanding general of the Confederate forces during the Civil War. It was established in 1917 as Camp Lee, then became Fort Lee in 1950. It encompasses 6,000 acres in Prince George County and is home to the headquarters of the Army Combined Arms Support Command (CASCOM), the Army Sustainment Center of Excellence (SCoE), the Army Quartermaster and Ordinance schools, the Army Logistics University (ALU), the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA), and the U.S. Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA).
Two other Virginia installations have also been recommended for name changes:
- Fort A.P. Hill in Caroline County would become Fort Walker in memory of Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, who was an American abolitionist, prohibitionist, prisoner of war and surgeon; and the only woman to ever receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.
- Fort Pickett neat Blackstone would become Fort Barfoot in memory of Col Van Thomas Barfoot, a Congressional Medal of Honor winner during World War II.
The commission will submit its final report to Congress in October, with final implementation expected by Jan. 1, 2024.
Other noted Army posts in the South to change names are Fort Hood in Texas, to be named Fort Cavazos in memory of Richard Cavazos, the first Hispanic service member to become a four-star general; and Fort Gordon in Georgia, which will be renamed Fort Eisenhower in memory of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a five-star general during World War II.
This article was written by Bill Atkinson and appeared in the Petersburg Progress-Index on May 24, 2022. Atkinson is an award-winning journalist and daily news coach for USA TODAY Network’s Atlantic Region which includes Virginia. He is based in Petersburg, Virginia.