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Hispanic Heritage Month: General Richard E. Cavazos

The United States has long benefitted from the rich cultural contributions and selfless service of the many notable members of its Hispanic community. Mainstream figures like Sonya Sotomayor, Cesar Chavez and Ellen Ochoa have been rightfully recognized for their accomplishments and cultural significance in civil rights and public service over the years. As a new era of minority recognition emerges, a fresh lens turns focus to lesser-known Hispanic figures in American History. 

A Hispanic figure of special local interest to Bell County is Army General Richard Edward Cavazos, for whom nearby Fort Hood was recently renamed. Born in 1929 to a ranching family, he was a sixth generation Texan. Inspired by his father’s heroic WWI service, Cavazos entered the military, where he became one of the most highly decorated soldiers of the Korean and Vietnam wars. The first Hispanic to reach the four-star rank in the United States Army, General Cavazos embodied the desirable leadership qualities of intelligence, judgment, and integrity. 

General Cavazos was honored for his service across three wars, to include Operation Urgent Fury. He was awarded twice, the Distinguished Service Cross Medal for extraordinary heroism in battle. Recipients of the Medal demonstrate exceptional acts of courage under extreme circumstances. Facing heavy enemy fire on June 14, 1953, in the vicinity of Sagimak, Korea, Cavazos single-handedly evacuated five wounded men, bringing them to safety while simultaneously destroying vital enemy personnel and equipment. Only four months prior, Cavazos ran through enemy fire to capture a valuable prisoner, earning the Silver Star. A long list of awards and accolades, reflecting his bravery and dedication, are attached to the resume of the General, who was buried at the age of 88 at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in 2017. 

Fort Hood shed its confederate namesake ties through Congressional Commission and on May 9, 2023, the base was renamed to honor the distinguished and exemplary service of General Cavazos. The Temple Public Library honors the contributions of General Cavazos and celebrates the multitude and magnitude of Hispanic contributions to the United States. 

The life and professional achievements of General Cavazos have been the subjects of many journal and magazine articles, many of which can be located through the Temple Public Library Military Database. (Library card number required if accessing outside the Library Wi-Fi network)

The Military Database covers topics across all government and military branches, including, but not limited to, international relations, political science, criminology, defense, communications, civil engineering, and aeronautics and space flight. An important benefit of the Military Database is its content diversity. Included are scholarly journals, trade and industry journals, magazines, technical reports, conference proceedings, government publications, and more. Access to the database requires only a library card number. 

It’s well-known General Richard E. Cavazos was a vanguard on the battlefield, and while exceptional in his own leadership and service, he is one of many in a pool of accomplished Hispanic military service members. 

To explore more Hispanic American Heritage in the Military Database, try the following search terms
  • Hispanic Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients
  • USMC Brigadier General Angela Salinas
  • Navy Pilot POW Everett Alvarez Jr. 
  • Brigadier General Robert L. Cardenas
  • 65th Infantry Regiment, Puerto Rican National Guard 1951
Helpful tips for searching the Military Database
  • Use the filters to narrow your results by source type, and utilize the database features at the top of the page to cite the source, save as PDF, email, or print the results.  
  • Selecting “All Options” offers options to save to research, cloud save, export citations, and more. 
Some articles of note: 
Graves, T. C., Colonel. (2012). General Richard Cavazos and the Korean war, 1953: A study in combat leadership. Military Review, 92(4), 65-72. 
Kingseed, C. (2020). First hispanic 4-star exemplified warrior spirit. Army, 70(9), 32-35. 
Sterner, D. (2023, Winter). RICHARD E. CAVAZOS. Vietnam, 35, 64. 

For assistance in utilizing this, or other databases, visit the Temple Public Library Adult Services Reference Desk, or call (254) 298-5555. 

- By Crystle Ardoin, Library Technician

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