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.

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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

G.V. Sonny Montgomery Chapter Teacher of the Year – June, 2019


The G.V. Sonny Montgomery Chapter of the Air Force Association in Meridian, MS, chose Southeast Lauderdale High School teacher Chloe Gressett as its 2019 outstanding teacher for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Gressett teaches biology, advanced placement biology, and zoology. (G.V. Sonny Montgomery Chapter President Langford Knight and Teacher of the Year Chloe Gressett pictured left.)

Gressett learned an exemplary work ethic, devotion to duty, precision and high expectations from her family. Her father served many years in the military, including several years in the 186th Wing of the Air National Guard in Meridian and the 172nd Wing in Jackson, MS.

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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


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.”

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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.

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Montgomery Foundation Makes Big Donation To MSU

(L-R) Ronnie Walton, Kyle Steward, and Pam Stevenson, along with Brad Crawford, foundation president and executive director, presenting a ceremonial check to Brian Locke, director of the MSU center during the university’s Nov. 17 home football game. (Source: Beth Wynn/MSU)

STARKVILLE, Miss. (MSU) – Montgomery Foundation furthers outstanding support for MSU military students

The G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Foundation recently committed $100,000 in support of multiple areas within the Mississippi State University Center for America’s Veterans, which is also named for the late congressman.

One portion secures adaptable support through an excellence fund for the many initiatives and programs that take place within the center, while a second portion benefits the building fund for Nusz Hall, the center’s home.

The final portion of the gift will enhance the G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Scholarship, established by the foundation in 2015 to assist current and former members of the U.S. military and their immediate family members who are Mississippi residents enrolled at MSU.

A Meridian native, Montgomery was a 1943 general business graduate of then-Mississippi State College, where he was a member of the ROTC. He devoted three decades of his life to military service, which included active duty in the European theatre of World War II and the Korean War, before retiring from the Mississippi Army National Guard with the rank of major general.

In 2005, Montgomery was awarded the highest civilian honor presented by the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Montgomery began his political career in 1956 with election to the Mississippi State Senate. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1966, where he held office through the terms of seven presidents. During his time in Congress, he drafted numerous pieces of legislation supporting veterans, including the Montgomery G.I. Bill, which has sent millions of veterans through higher education nationwide.

Prior to Montgomery’s death in 2006 at the age of 85, the G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Foundation was established to honor his work and perpetuate his important legacy. Today, the foundation continues to carry his mission forward by encouraging leadership and providing support for educational activities relating to citizenship, military service and veterans’ affairs.

Since 2001, the Montgomery Foundation has contributed over $760,000 to the university. In addition to its most recent commitment, the foundation annually supports various areas across Mississippi State’s Starkville and Meridian campuses including scholarships, the Montgomery Leadership Award, Stennis-Montgomery Association, Army and Air Force ROTC programs, and the Montgomery Advisement and Career Center, among others.

Further recognizing Montgomery’s impactful legacy, the Bulldog football team donned special “Statesman” uniforms for the annual Veterans Recognition Game on Nov. 17 at Scott Field. Inspired by the paint scheme of the Mississippi Air National Guard C-17 Globemaster III plane named “The Spirit of Sonny Montgomery,” the uniforms also featured images of various medals earned by Montgomery throughout his military career.

The Montgomery Center at MSU is recognized as a national leader in providing comprehensive support through a university-based veteran resource center. Serving over 2,800 military-connected students at MSU, the assistance and outreach provided by the center have helped MSU earn recognition as a top university for veterans, including designations with the 2018 Military Friendly Schools Gold Medal and as a “Military Spouse Friendly” institution for veteran-oriented campus culture.

Kathy Brookshire Receives 2018 G.V. Sonny Montgomery Leadership Award

MERIDIAN, (WTOK) – Kathy Brookshire, former Vice President for the MCC Development and former MCC Foundation Executive Director was awarded the prestigious G.V. Sonny Montgomery Outstanding Leadership Award for 2018.

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GVSM Foundation Donates Courtesy Golf Cart To North MS Veterans Memorial Cemetery

The G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Foundation today presented a courtesy golf cart to North Miss. Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Kilmichael. Attending were staff member Marcus Lawson, Montgomery Foundation Board members Bob Bailey and Kyle Steward, Miss. Veterans Affairs Board head Stacey Pickering, and Brian Locke, director of the Sonny Montgomery Center For American Veterans at Mississippi State University The Foundation earlier made a similar donation to the Miss. Veterans Cemetery at Newton.

The gifts are made to carry on the late congressman’s support for the nation’s veterans.