FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. — The U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and Fort Huachuca held its annual National Buffalo Soldier Day ceremony in Alvarado Hall, July 28.
The event celebrated the heritage of the Buffalo Soldiers and honored their important contributions to Fort Huachuca, the Army, and our Nation, said Brig. Gen. Rick Appelhans, USAICoE and Fort Huachuca commanding general.
“They protected American settlements, helped build key infrastructure, and ensured that our Nation’s borders remained stable,” Appelhans said. “They were key to the settlement of the American west during a time of intense competition with Mexico and Native American tribes.”
The term ‘Buffalo Soldiers’ refers primarily to members of the four all-Black units that were established in 1866. These units, which included the 24th and 25th Infantry Regiments along with the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments, campaigned across the western United States for over 50 years.
Guest speaker, Rebecca Orozco, Camp Naco community coordinator, has worked to save historic Camp Naco for the past 22 years. She discovered the camp while working to develop cross border programs for Elderhostel, an educational travel program for seniors.
“I always felt that if I talked to the right person, we would be able to save this incredible piece of history,” Orozco said. “That finally happened about three years ago.”
Orozco said she was approached by a professor with the University of Arizona who wanted one of her students to update the National Register Nomination for Camp Naco. The success of this initiative, led to interest from the Arizona Preservation Foundation.
In 2022, Camp Naco made the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual list of the 11 most endangered historic places around the U.S.
After being awarded more than $8 million in grants to preserve the historic site, Orozco said “we are now at the point where we have started the preservation process, which will include rebuilding Camp Naco.”
Closing out the ceremony, the late Ed Swena’s family donated a sculpture he created before passing away in 2022. The bust of the Buffalo Soldier will be in a museum here at Fort Huachuca for future generations to see.
“As Fort Huachuca is the true home of the Buffalo Soldier, it's vital that we keep their legacy alive through celebrations like today’s ceremony,” Appelhans said. “Fort Huachuca and the Fort Huachuca Community are proud to carry on this legacy. The Buffalo Soldiers remain a shining example of excellence within our Army and our Nation, and we are so very thankful for their proud service and the legacy of the Buffalo Soldier in our Army’s history.”
Additional photos are on the Fort Huachuca Flickr page: https://www.flickr.com/photos/us_army_fort_huachuca/albums/72177720310094971