Fort Polk name change effective this summer

Published 4:03 am Friday, March 3, 2023

Fort Polk will be re-designated as Fort Johnson sometime this summer, said LTC Patrick Murphy, Fort Polk Ex Officio councilmember.

Murphy made this announcement at this week’s DeRidder City Council meeting. He said that while a final date has yet to be determined, the ceremony will most likely take place in June.

It is also undetermined if the ceremony will be open to the public or if it will be limited to military members and invited public officials.

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Additionally, any Fort Polk signage nationwide will be changed this summer to Fort Johnson.

The process of renaming Fort Polk began in 2021 after the changes were mandated by Congress through the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act. Through this act, all Army bases identified by Congress as having Confederacy ties to their names have been required to change their bases’ name to cut said ties.

Fort Polk is named after a Confederate general from the Civil War, Leonidas Polk.

Bases include: Fort Polk, Fort Benning and Fort Gordon in Georgia, Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Lee and Fort Pickett in Virginia, Fort Rucker in Alabama and Fort Hood in Texas.

Public suggestions for appropriate names were accepted until December, 2021. As previously reported by the Beauregard News, the renaming commission sought out names that were associated with “commemorate individuals, high-profile military operations, geographic locations or core military values.”

In May, 2022 the commission submitted their choice of “Fort Johnson” to Congress. The name honors Sgt. William Henry Johnson, a North Carolina native who served in the Army during World War I and earned an African American Medal of Honor.

The Naming Commission’s final report from 2022 indicated that the re-designation of Fort Polk to Fort Johnson could cost upward of $1.4 million.