Sonny As A Next Door Neighbor

I was born and raised in Meridian living on Country Club Drive with one of the fairways of the Northwood Country Club behind our house.

I don’t remember or having been told when Sonny purchased the duplex next door to us. He kept one of the apartments for himself when he was back in town from Washington DC. He often would come over to say hello to my parents. This was especially the case following the death of my oldest sister in January 1970.

He even sponsored me as the Primary Candidate to the USAF Academy in 1973 even though I was not ultimately selected. Later, while I was on active duty with the Air Force my father passed in 1986 . . . I was told that it was from the personal efforts of my father’s employer and Sonny who made the arrangements to have my Dad buried in the VA Veterans Cemetery in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Richard Blanton

G. V. “Sonny” Montgomery Honored With NGEF Christmas Ornament

Each year the National Guard Educational Foundation produces a unique National Guard Christmas Ornament. Rarely, If ever, does the ornament depict an individual, but this year they have chosen to honor Sonny on the 100th year anniversary of his birth.

2020 NGEF Commemorative Ornament

2020 NGEF Commemorative Ornament, 8th Edition 

This oil-on-canvas painting adorns the Montgomery Room inside the National Guard Memorial, named for Gillespie V. “Sonny” Montgomery (August 5, 1920 – May 12, 2006). A Mississippi Guardsman and veteran of World War II and Korea, Sonny Montgomery retired as a Major General in 1980.

He served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 30 years (D-MS), during which he sponsored the Montgomery G.I. Bill. This educational benefit remains a widely used resource for Guardsmen and their families.

Throughout his career, Sonny was a staunch supporter of the National Guard Association of the United States and advocated for the Guard on Capitol Hill.

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Placing Flowers At Grave Site Of Former Congressman Sonny Montgomery For 100th Birthday

Board Members of the GVMF visited the grave site of former Congressman Sonny Montgomery in Magnolia Cemetery on August 5th, 2020 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth.

L to R: Brad Crawford, David Kennard, Wanda Hardy(Florist), Pam Stevenson, Bo Maske, Ronnie Walton, Bob Bailey

 

A Centennial Celebration of Congressman G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Virtual Exhibit

“A Centennial Celebration of Congressman G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery” is a virtual exhibit commemorating the 100th birthday of Congressman Sonny Montgomery, a WWII and Korean War veteran, an alumnus of MSU, and a beloved former congressman from Mississippi’s 3rd congressional district.

The exhibit is a collaborative effort between the Congressional and Political Research Center, the Digital Preservation and Access Unit, and the MaxxSouth Digital Media Center, all of MSU Libraries.

Click here to explore introductory information, individual themed “exhibit cases,” and more via the links on the MSU University Libraries site!

 

100 years after his birth, Sonny Montgomery’s good deeds continue

From The Meridian Star (07/31/2020):

Patriot. Statesman. Soldier. Public servant.

Those are just four terms often used to describe the late Gillespie V. “Sonny” Montgomery, a Meridian native, World War II veteran and prominent U.S. Congressman.

Born Aug. 5, 1920, Montgomery, who died in 2006, would have celebrated his 100th birthday this upcoming Wednesday.

A hundred years after his birth, and 14 years after his death, Montgomery’s legacy continues to make an impact across Mississippi and the nation.

“I remember Sonny mostly by his personality,” said Brad Crawford, executive director and president of the G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Foundation in Meridian. “His love for people – all people. Sonny was well-loved here in Meridian, but also on Capitol Hill, and everywhere he went. He had this extraordinary interest in his fellow man … and this ability to bring people together.”

After graduating from Mississippi State University, Montgomery joined the U.S. Army, serving in the European Theater during World War II. He remained on active duty during the Korean Conflict and later had a long career in the Mississippi National Guard, retiring after 35 years as a major general.

[Read More…]

A Great American Friendship

Reprinted from The Paragould Daily Press

Photo Credit: The Meridian Star

Sunday, December 9,2018: One of George H.W. Bush’s closest friends was G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery.

The two met as freshman members of Congress. Bush was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas, and Montgomery was elected to the U.S. House from Mississippi. The year was 1966.

They were both about the same age. Montgomery was born in 1920, Bush in 1924. Both were World War II veterans. Bush had been a naval aviator in the Pacific. Montgomery was in the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II, and was active duty during the Korean War.

Bush was a family man. Montgomery was not.

After serving two terms in Congress, Bush lost his bid for the U.S. Senate in 1970, but the following year he would become U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President Richard Nixon, then chairman of the Republican National Committee. Under President Gerald Ford, Bush was chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in China, and then spent about a year as director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) before President Jimmy Carter’s administration took over in 1977.

Bush ran for the Republican nomination for president in 1980, but dropped out in May of that year. He became Ronald Reagan’s running mate, and served as President Reagan’s vice president for eight years. Bush served one term as president (1989-1993).

Montgomery served 30 years in Congress. His greatest legacy is the Montgomery G.I. Bill. He also was a lead sponsor in establishing the Veterans Affairs cabinet-level position. When George H.W. Bush was elected president he even offered Montgomery the position of secretary of the department. Montgomery turned it down because he wanted to stay in Congress.

When Montgomery had a National Guard Armory named for him in Mississippi in 1981, Vice President Bush and his wife, Barbara, came to the dedication ceremony. The armory was adorned with gigantic letters bearing the congressman’s name. There’s a photograph of the three of them with the armory, and that huge name in the background. Bush wrote on the photo: “Dear Sonny — Memories of a great day, but can’t you get some bigger letters? George Bush.”

“When George Bush was president, I was al ways included in whatever social functions he and Barbara had at the White House,” Montgomery wrote in his book, “Sonny Montgomery: The Veteran’s Champion” (2003). “Sometimes the president and Barbara would meet me at St. John’s Episcopal Church on Lafayette Square, which is across the street from the White House, at 8:00 a.m. for the service, and we would walk back to the White House and have breakfast.”

In a column published in The Clarion-Ledger this past week, Sid Salter wrote that at Montgomery’s funeral in Mississippi in 2006, an inconsolable Bush said: “One of the great joys of our days in the White House was the Sundays that Sonny would come over. Every president needs a friend to be alone and relax with. For me, that person was, and always will be, Sonny Montgomery.”

Both men received the Presidential Medal of Freedom: Montgomery in 2005 from President George W. Bush, and George H.W. Bush in 2011 from President Barack Obama.

“Sonny Montgomery remains one of my closest personal friends,” George H.W. Bush wrote in the foreword to Sonny’s book. “While I served in Congress and after that in the Executive Branch of government, Sonny remained a close confidant, a man whose judgement I always trusted, a man whose friendship gave me comfort when the going got tough.”

Here’s the fun part — George H.W. Bush was a life-long Republican. Sonny Montgomery was a life-long Democrat. They opposed each other at times during their careers in public service, and they also worked together. What a great testament to each of them, and friendship, and America.

Steve Gillespie, Editor Of The Daily Press

Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans dedicates new lounge at MSU-Meridian

The Montgomery Center for America's Veterans staff led by Director Brian Locke (front row 3rd from right) and MSU-Meridian head of campus Terry Dale Cruse (back row far left) along with MSU-Meridian staff celebrate the opening of a new veteran lounge at MSU-Meridian's College Park Campus. (Photo by Lisa Sollie)

The Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans staff led by Director Brian Locke (front row 3rd from right) and MSU-Meridian head of campus Terry Dale Cruse (back row far left) along with MSU-Meridian staff celebrate the opening of a new veteran lounge at MSU-Meridian’s College Park Campus. (Photo by Lisa Sollie)

MERIDIAN, Miss.—Long recognized as one of the nation’s most veteran-friendly universities, Mississippi State is expanding support for military-connected students at MSU-Meridian’s College Park Campus.

The university’s G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans celebrated a ribbon cutting Tuesday [April 16] for a new veteran’s lounge, a space dedicated for student military members and their families. The lounge is equipped with comfortable seating, computer work station with free printing, as well as a microwave and coffeemaker.

Led by retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Brian Locke, the Montgomery Center provides comprehensive support annually for more than 2,800 military-connected students in Starkville and nearly 100 students at the Meridian campuses.

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MSU Again Named One Of Nation’s Top Military-Friendly Online Colleges

From MSState.Edu:

Sign and flags at Nusz Hall – G.V. Sonny Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans.
(photo by Megan Bean / © Mississippi State University)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State is once again being recognized for its military-friendliness and accessible, quality distance education programs.

MSU is being honored by SR Education Group as one of the nation’s top military-friendly online colleges, coming in at No. 16 in the organization’s “Yellow Ribbon” rankings. MSU also is listed No. 9 for the most affordable military-friendly online bachelor’s degree. The rankings were calculated using data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs GI Bill Comparison Tool, which evaluates military culture, online support, flexibility and financial assistance.

“For many of our current service members, distance education is by far their best option to earn a degree,” said Brian Locke, director of MSU’s G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans. “Many of them need the flexibility that distance education provides, which we can give them while maintaining the highest quality and academic excellence for their desired course of study. I feel strongly that it is our obligation to do everything we can to assist these students with earning their degree from Mississippi State.”

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Wreath Laying Ceremony Honors Vietnam Veterans

From WCBI TV:

MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY, Miss. (WCBI)- They were barely out of their teens when they shipped out to serve their country.

Friday, Vietnam War veterans were honored with a national day of remembrance. But Thursday, veterans, and staff at Mississippi State’s Center for America’s Veterans held their own service. The wreath ceremony honors everyone who served in the Vietnam war.

The Veteran’s Center is named for MSU alum and former Mississippi Congressman G. V. Sonny Montgomery, who was known on Capitol Hill as “Mr. Veteran.”

[Read More (Video)]

Former President George H.W. Bush remembered in Meridian for friendship with Congressman G. V. ‘Sonny’ Montgomery

From The Meridian Star:

Former President George H.W. Bush, who died late Friday, is being remembered in Meridian for his close friendship with former Congressman G. V. “Sonny” Montgomery.

Read the article…