General Lee Avenue in Fort Hamilton renamed for Black Vietnam War hero

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Friday, May 20, 2022
Avenue in Brooklyn named after Robert E. Lee renamed after Black war hero
After years of controversy, a Brooklyn street named after the Confederate general was renamed after a Black Vietnam War veteran

FORT HAMILTON, Brooklyn (WABC) -- After years of controversy, Fort Hamilton has removed the name of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from an avenue on the Brooklyn Army base, replacing it with that of a Black Vietnam War hero from Crown Heights.

General Lee Avenue, located in the city's only Army base, was rechristened John Warren Avenue Friday morning.

Warren was a 22-year-old lieutenant in the Army who was killed in the Vietnam War in January 1969.

The change is the culmination of a long-standing push by local officials, accelerated by the recent removal of at least 230 Confederate symbols across the country, to get rid of Robert E. Lee's name.

The base will also rename Stonewall Jackson Drive in coming weeks, which is named after another Confederate military figure, Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson.

Lee was stationed at Fort Hamilton from 1841 to 1846, serving as an Army engineer.

There has been a push for years to strip the base of these Confederate names, an effort that accelerated after the killing of George Floyd in 2020. Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the time that Lee's name should be removed everywhere in the country.

The avenue now honors Warren, who was a platoon leader in Vietnam. He was killed while using his body to shield his fellow soldiers from a thrown enemy grenade.

The Brooklyn native was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award, for his valor.

"The names of our military assets should appropriately reflect the courage, values, and sacrifices of our diverse military men and women, and First Lt. John Warren Jr. is a great example of all that," Fort Hamilton spokesperson Connie Dillon said in a statement. "He is a local hero and he displayed the courage and values that our soldiers can emulate."

Dillon said the switch had been in the works for almost two years and had to be approved by the Army.

Warren's sister, the only surviving immediate family member, attended the renaming ceremony.

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