Virginia Group Will Recommend New Name for Camp Pendleton

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Virginia Army National Guard recruits practice bounding overwatch at Camp Pendleton.
FILE -- In this Oct. 17, 2015 file photo, recruits with the Virginia Army National Guard Recruit Sustainment Program practice bounding overwatch at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach, Virginia. (A.J. Coyne/National Guard)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — Virginia officials have begun reviewing new names for a military reservation that currently honors a Confederate Army chief of artillery.

Several alternatives for Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach are being considered by a working group from the state’s veterans affairs and defense agencies and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Gov. Ralph Northam’s office said.

The group will submit a new name recommendation by the end of February, Northam’s office said.

The 325-acre state military reservation was set up as a rifle range for the state’s National Guard in 1912. It was later used by the Army in World War II and was formally named after William Nelson Pendleton, who was elected captain of the Rockbridge Artillery at the start of the Civil War. He served as chief of artillery for Gen. Joseph Johnston and later acted in the same role for the entire Confederate Army.

His own soldiers called him “Old Mother Pendleton,” apparently because of their low regard for him.

The 2021 National Defense Authorization Act approved by Congress in December includes a call to replace Confederate names of federal military bases. In Virginia, those also include Fort Lee, Fort Pickett and Fort A.P. Hill.

Alena Yarmosky, a spokeswoman for Northam, said in an email that Camp Pendleton was the only installation under the state's purview. Lee, Pickett and Hill are federal installations and will be renamed by a federal group that has been established, she said.

Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach is not to be confused with the Marine Corps training base in southern California. That installation, dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1942, was named in honor of World War I Major Gen. Joseph H. Pendleton.

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