The Veterans of Foreign Wars hosted an installation ceremony Friday at the Phantom Warrior Center for the only current VFW post on an active duty installation in the United States.

The VFW honored the memory of Command Sgt. Maj. A.C. Cotton, the first known African American command sergeant major for the 1st Cavalry Division by dedicating VFW Post 12209 in his honor.

Cotton, a beloved member of the “First Team,” said before his passing in 2021 at age 86, “I hope the American people realize what a great Army we have; great Soldiers who get up every day to defend our freedom.”

Although other VFWs have been on Army installations throughout the organization’s 122-year history, Post 12209 at Fort Hood is the only current one.

“It’s hard to name things after people you know who have affected your life and affected other people’s lives in the community,” Willie Keller, Post 12209 commander, said. “As far as I can remember, me being a tanker, (Cotton) was always world-known in the armored cavalry community.”

In attendance to help dedicate the CSM A.C. Cotton VFW Post 12209 were Lt. Gen. Pat White, III Corps and Fort Hood commanding general and Col. Chad R. Foster, commander of U.S. Army Garrison  – Fort Hood. Also on hand were state Rep. Brad Buckley, Brad Buckley, TX-District 54, VFW Texas Commander Norman Macey, Cotton’s family members, VFW members, and Soldiers past and present.

“I’m happy to bring the services of the VFW to the Soldiers and veterans that live and work on Fort Hood,” Keller said. “Once a Soldier, always a Soldier, and the VFW never stops supporting Soldiers.”

Adjutant Lupita Perez, Texas VFW, gave the opening remarks at the dedication. Several new VFW candidates were administered the Oath of Obligation and presented the Cross of Malta. At the end of the ceremony, the Department of Texas Military Order of the Purple Heart designated the CSM A.C. Cotton VFW Post 12209 a Purple Heart Post.

“I was so honored to witness history in the making today as the CSM A.C. Cotton VFW Post 12209 held their chartering and installation ceremony at Fort Hood,” Buckley said.

CSM A.C. Cotton Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 12209 will start meeting on the first Monday of every month at 6 p.m. at the Oveta Culp Hobby Soldier and Family Readiness Center on Fort Hood.

The VFW is a congressionally chartered war veteran’s organization that dates back to 1899. With 1.5 million members, it is the largest American organization of combat veterans, which supports veterans and active-duty service members from all branches.