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Fort Lee to be renamed to honor 2 Black officers: 'Very gratifying'

By Cameron Thompson,


RICHMOND, Va. -- While Fort Pickett is now known as Fort Barfoot , there are two more U.S. military bases in Virginia named for people with ties to the Confederacy that are set to be redesignated and the date that for to happen has been announced for one of them.

Fort Lee will be redesignated as Fort Gregg-Adams on April 27.

The fort will honor two Black officers: Lt. Gen. Arthur J. Gregg and Lt. Col. Charity Adams.

Gregg enlisted as a private in the still segregated U.S. Army in January 1946 and spent the next 35 years climbing the ranks before retiring as a three-star general in 1981.

"I'm glad that I did. It was a great career for me," said Gregg, 94, who now lives in Northern Virginia.

With the renaming, Gregg becomes the first living person in modern U.S. history to have a base named after them.

"I was very pleased to have my name on one of our major military bases and the major, in my opinion, logistics base for our Army -- was just very, very gratifying. And, you know, my thoughts turned to all of those people who helped me and my life and my career that made me a candidate for that great honor," said Gregg, who added he first learned his name was even up for consideration from the late. Rep. Donald McEachin.

Gregg's career in the military saw him serve in the logistics field and was deployed around the world, including with the Army of Occupation in post-war Germany, Vietnam during the war, and Serbia. He was also deployed at several stateside bases and used the expression "great assignment" when recounting many of them.

Along with his decorated career, Gregg broke several barriers -- including being the first African-American to reach the rank of Lieutenant General.

He also had two deployments to the Fort that will soon bear his name. Once in 1950, when the base was still segregated -- something he helped undo. He returned for a second deployment at a fully integrated Fort Lee in 1958.

"And that was a great experience. It was nine months," said Gregg.

The person who Gregg will share the renaming honor with is Lt. Col. Charity Adams, the first Black officer in the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps who commanded the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, known at the 6888, who dealt with a huge mail backlog in wartime Europe. The unit was recently awarded the Congressional Gold Medal .

While Gregg never met Adams, he said he has been reading her autobiography and gotten to know her children.

"I really enjoyed our time together and I have learned so much about Lt. Col. Adams," said Gregg. "And I tell you, I'm so proud to have her name along with mine at Fort Lee."

The renaming of Pickett and Lee is part of a broader effort in the U.S. military -- and nine bases around the country are having names tied to the Confederacy redesignated.

The third one in Virginia is Fort A.P. Hill and will be renamed Fort Walker in honor of Dr. Mary Edwards Walker -- the first female surgeon in the Civil War and the only female recipient of the Medal of Honor.

While for Gregg, when soldiers come through the soon-to-be gates of Fort Gregg-Adams he hopes they learn about their stories and are instilled with pride.

"And it will help them to enjoy not only their service at Fort Lee but their service in the United States Army. That's important to me."

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