COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Fort Benning is renaming the School of Leadership and Tactics under the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation School (WHINSEC) after two fallen heroes.
Family, friends, and service members joined at a dedication ceremony Thursday morning to recall the battle that claimed the soldiers’ lives.
Master Sgt. Luis DeLeon Figueroa and Master Sgt. Jose Gonzalez of the U.S. Army Special Forces were killed as they were defending each other during a fierce battle in Afghanistan in 2019.
Lt. Col. Brian Connolly said Figueroa and Gonzalez resembled the most extreme example of the brotherhood that is forged in a tactical life. Now, their legacies will live on in the new name, the DeLeon-Gonzalez School of Leadership and Tactics.
“This shows that we don’t forget,” said Lt. Col. Connolly. “And really, we’ve now created a situation where they did not serve in our organization, but they did have an impact on our organization’s sort of responsibilities. So we will not allow their memories to be forgotten. And we intend to serve as a platform for their families, to allow their connection to live on through their immortal legacy.”
The shared name concept drives home brotherhood and the camaraderie fostered from facing hardships in the field.
The soldiers’ children unveiled a wooden case showcasing photos of Figueroa and Gonzalez along with their uniforms. As the curtain slid down the case, the guests filled the silent room with cheering and clapping. The memorial also displayed a certificate that both families received at the ceremony.