Fort Polk Progress changes name ahead of base renaming
Published 3:54 pm Saturday, July 2, 2022
The organization known as Fort Polk Progress has officially changed its name to the Louisiana Armed Forces Alliance, following a vote by board officials.
Chairman of the organization, Rick Allen, said the move was made by the panel in an effort to include representation of more areas of the state and to accommodate the recent recommendation by the Naming Commission to change Fort Polk’s name to Fort Johnson.
“Since the name change of Fort Polk is written into law and will obviously affect our own name, the board and I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to broaden our organization’s overall purpose,” Allen said.
By broadening its name, Allen said the organization will now be able to focus on the impact that the military as a whole makes across the state. Such impacts were highlighted late last year by a recent economic impact analysis released by the Louisiana Department of Economic Development, which showed military-related spending accounted for $9.6 billion throughout the state and supported 77,000 jobs.
“Every city and town in the state has a stake in our military, whether they have an installation in their backyard or not,” Allen said. “Previously, we’ve been focusing on keeping Fort Polk stable and growing. But we have resources in place and we are ready and willing to reach out to other communities, the whole state in fact, in order to do what we can to protect and grow all of our military assets.”
In May, the Naming Commission presented its recommendations for the new name of Fort Polk and eight other military bases whose original names were found to have ties to the confederacy.
Fort Polk’s new name will honor Sgt. William Henry Johnson, an African-American soldier who enlisted in the segregated military and during World War I received the French Croix de Guerre for his actions. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart in 1996 and the Distinguished Service Cross in 2002.
Fort Polk had originally been named after Gen. Leonidas Polk, who is sometimes referred to as “the fighting bishop.”