Sonny Montgomery: Citizen Soldier

Montgomery Congressional Collection Announced At MSU

From MSState.EDU:

Contact: Meg Henderson


The late congressman and MSU alumnus G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery recently was honored with the opening of the Montgomery Congressional Research Collection at Mitchell Memorial Library. Taking part in the ceremony were (l-r) Robert J. “Bob” Bailey, president emeritus of the Meridian-based Montgomery Foundation; Kyle Steward, MSU executive director of external affairs and former senior Montgomery staff member; U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper; and Jerry Gilbert, MSU provost and executive vice president.

STARKVILLE, Miss.—The G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Congressional Collection now is open to the public at Mississippi State.

On the Aug. 5 occasion—what would have been the former U.S. representative’s 95th birthday—the university formally dedicated the collection in its Congressional and Political Research Center at Mitchell Memorial Library.

University officials said the collection includes more than 1,200 cubic feet of correspondence, memos, speeches, floor statements, photographs and memorabilia about the longtime public servant and MSU alumnus who died in 2006 at age 85.

The files cover the Meridian native from his time at the McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, through his student leadership at then-Mississippi State College to his World War II military service in Europe, where was awarded a Bronze Star with Valor. The collection also highlights his public service career that began with a decade in the Mississippi Legislature, followed by 30 years in Congress that concluded with retirement in 1997.

U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper, Montgomery’s 3rd District successor, joined with members of the Meridian-based Montgomery Foundation to help announce the collection’s formal opening.

Jerry Gilbert, MSU provost and executive vice president, said “from his years as a Mississippi State student throughout his lifetime, Sonny Montgomery was considered a leader who worked tirelessly on behalf of those he served.”

Noting how the congressman’s “leadership and people skills served him well throughout his career,” Gilbert also praised Montgomery for being “a devoted and loyal friend of Mississippi State and one who frequented the campus throughout his life and whose legacy can been seen throughout the campus.”

During his time in Washington, D.C., Montgomery gained an international reputation for his tireless work on behalf of American military veterans. In addition to visiting Vietnam repeatedly throughout the war and assisting in the return of prisoners of war, he most notably led in securing an extension of the G. I. Bill—an effort that his colleagues renamed the “Montgomery G. I. Bill” in tribute.

Additionally, the collection illustrates the close friendship between Montgomery and former President George H.W. Bush. The two met on their first day in Congress in 1967 and remained friends for the remainder of the congressman’s life.

In his remarks, Harper praised Montgomery for serving the district and nation “with integrity, compassion and hard work.

“His efforts on behalf of our country’s veterans and the people of Mississippi are still realized today, and we are eternally grateful,” Harper said.

“Sonny loved Mississippi State University, and I know that he would be proud of the new G.V. ‘Sonny’ Montgomery Collection,” he continued. “I hope that this collection will be a reminder of Sonny’s esteemed public service for generations to come.”

The Congressional and Political Research Center is open 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday. For more information, visit

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G.V. ‘Sonny’ Montgomery Foundation donates $50,000 to MAEC

From The Meridian Star:

This conceptual drawing depicts what the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center will look like once completed.

This conceptual drawing depicts what the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center will look like once completed.

Posted: Friday, May 29, 2015 4:07 am

    The G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Foundation will donate $50,000 to the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center, the organization’s executive director and president, Brad Crawford, announced.

“This world-class facility is just what former Congressman Sonny Montgomery had in mind when he established the foundation with one of his primary objectives to …’encourage leadership and support educational activities …’” Crawford states in a press release.

Construction of the MAEC is expected to begin this fall.

“The MAEC will educate and inspire children of all ages in the fields of literature, performing and visual arts, design, music and the culinary arts while simultaneously entertaining in-state and out of state visitors,” the press release states.

[ Continue reading… ]

MSU breaks ground for new veterans’ center, residence halls

(photo by Russ Houston / © Mississippi State University)

(photo by Russ Houston / © Mississippi State University)

Office of Public Affairs

News Bureau (662) 325-3442
May 08, 2015

STARKVILLE, Miss.–Mississippi State officials and university friends gathered Friday morning [May 8] to formally break ground for two new residence halls and a premier veterans’ facility slated for completion next year.

“These facilities will be major assets for our students by offering additional residential spaces to accommodate a growing demand for on-campus housing,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. “The new veterans’ facility, which will house our nationally recognized G.V. ‘Sonny’ Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans, will continue to carry out the university’s commitment to serving those who have served our country.”

Architectural firm The McCarty Company of Tupelo is working closely with contractor W.G. Yates and Sons Construction Company of Philadelphia to complete the buildings by July 1, 2016, according to Tim Muzzi, MSU interim director for planning, design and construction administration.

The new buildings are made possible, in part, through the generosity of Tommy and Terri Nusz, alumni of MSU’s Class of 1982, who donated a $12.3 million gift as part of Infinite Impact, MSU’s ongoing capital campaign.

Terri Nusz earned a bachelor’s degree in interior design and began her own design company after graduation. Tommy Nusz completed a petroleum engineering degree, and he is CEO and chairman of the board of NYSE-listed Oasis Petroleum Inc., the Texas-based independent exploration and production company he co-founded in 2007. He will give the commencement address at Humphrey Coliseum for MSU’s spring graduation ceremonies Friday and Saturday [May 8 and 9].

The Nusz family’s gift designates $2 million as a cornerstone contribution to build the university’s Center for America’s Veterans. The center is a national leader in providing campus-based veteran resources in support of some 2,100 currently enrolled student veterans, service members, dependents and survivors.

“We’ve had a history in our family of military service,” said Tommy Nusz. “As we looked at the needs across campus, we felt like it was a great opportunity to give back not only to Mississippi State, but to all those who have served,” he said.

The facility for the Center for America’s Veterans will include 7,500 square-feet and feature administrative offices, a meeting area and student-support spaces.

The new residence halls will total 245,000 square-feet and each have 376 beds, for a total of 752 beds. Double-occupancy rooms with private bathrooms will be available, as will suites with four single bedrooms, two baths and shared living spaces.

The total construction cost for all three buildings is $53.4 million.

“These facilities will help provide a variety of options and a great learning community for upper-class students,” said Bill Broyles, interim vice president for student affairs. “We like to see students not only excel in their academic pursuits, but also complement their studies with meaningful co-curricular activities, and these residence halls are conveniently located next to our world-class recreational facilities.”

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Montgomery Scholarships Awarded At Meridian Community College For 2015

From the Meridian Star – Wednesday, April 8, 2015:

US-Meridian-Community-CollegeJarred Scott, Savannah Jackson, Thomas Haney, Brittany Drummond and Krista Everett have been selected to receive the G. V. “Sonny” Montgomery Scholarships at Meridian Community College.

These $1,000 awards are funded through the MCC Foundation by the Board of Trustees of the G. V. “Sonny” Montgomery Foundation. They believe they are “Carrying the Legacy Forward” by continuing Congressman Montgomery’s fervent commitment to education.

Scott is a 2014 high honors graduate of Meridian High School, where he was a member of the National Honor Society and on the Wildcat Baseball Team. Scott is a member of the 2014-15 MCC Baseball Team. He is in the University Transfer Program at MCC.

[ Read full article at Meridian Star ]

GVMF Honors VA Whistleblowers

On February 28th, 2015, the G. V. Sonny Montgomery Foundation recognized and honored some outspoken veterans and whistle-blowers like Erik Heron and Charles Sherwood. Sherwood testified in front of the House Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs. The information these individuals provided led to massive changes to V.A. Hospitals nationwide leading to improvements in medical care for veterans.

From WLBT News:

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) – Some V.A. Hospital whistleblowers were recognized Saturday.

The V.A. Sonny Montgomery Veterans Hospital is one of many V.A. hospitals around the country that have undergone big changes. The changes came after claims of fraud, falsified appointment records, and other problems.

The claims were brought by outspoken veterans and whistleblowers like Erik Heron and Charles Sherwood. Sherwood testified in front of the House Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs.

On Saturday morning, a handful of those brave people were honored by the G.V. Sonny Montgomery Foundation. Awards were handed out at Lou’s Full-Serv Restaurant in Jackson.
“My little bit of testimony primarily pointed out the fact that there was a systemic problem in the V.A. because all senior V.A. executive compensation was tied to these performance measures (which were inflated). The system was very easy to game, and that apparently was happening around the country,” Sherwood tells us.

“We’ve made progress on this. The V.A. has begrudgingly made some improvements. But the attitude has gotten better lately,” Heron says.

[ Read more ]

Sonny’s Extraordinary Knack of Friend Making

sonny_montgomery_bill_crawford_01My first meeting with Sonny occurred in 1967 when he made his first visit to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. All Mississippi midshipmen were mustered to meet with him. As one of his constituents I was given the opportunity to help show him around. Not long afterwards I received the adjacent photo.  I was to learn later that Sonny always followed up on his meetings with constituents.  Many times after that first meeting our paths would cross. Every time he would say “hello Billy,” like we were old friends. Indeed, Sonny made friends of nearly everyone he met…and remembered their names.

Years later, from 1991 through 1995, it was my privilege to work closely with Sonny on efforts to save Meridian Naval Air Station from closure. These pressure-packed, intense battles with the Navy and Pentagon before the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission let me see Sonny’s true character up close. Through it all he remained a man of honor, guided by faith, strong patriotism, and unwavering perseverance. But it would be his extraordinary knack to make true friends, his good will fellowship, that made the difference.

sonny_montgomery_bill_crawford_02The adjacent photo shows us and community leaders in 1995 with the late Admiral Jeremy Boorda. Our team’s case was strong, but it was ultimately Sonny’s fellowship that got the ear of then Chief of Naval Operations Boorda. That led Boorda to publicly disagree with his boss, the Secretary of the Navy, about NAS Meridian in sworn testimony before the BRAC commission – an extraordinary occurrence that allowed the base to survive its third consecutive BRAC round.

During this period our community learned important leadership lessons from Sonny. We embedded his leadership approach in the Leadership Lauderdale program and, later, its components – faith, fellowship, patriotism, and perseverance – would become the guiding principles of The Montgomery Institute.

It was a privilege to know and work with Sonny and be his friend. I’ve never met a more remarkable man.

Bill Crawford


GVMF Gift to Mississippi Veterans Memorial Cemetery

GVMF Gift to CemeteryBo Maske(L), past president of the G. V. “Sonny” Montgomery Foundation, presents a check in the amount of $2,000 to Beth Milling, Board Member for Friends of Mississippi Veterans Foundation, and Henry Gruno, Mississippi Veterans Memorial Cemetery Director.

The Montgomery Foundation provided the money for support of activities and operations at the cemetery in Newton.

MSU to celebrate first-of-its-kind veterans’ health program

Office of Public Affairs
News Bureau (662) 325-3442
Contact: Leah Barbour
November 03, 2014

Mississippi State University is the first institution of higher learning in the nation to partner with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide veterans polytrauma medical services. Photo by: Russ Houston

Mississippi State University is the first institution of higher learning in the nation to partner with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide veterans polytrauma medical services. Photo by: Russ Houston

STARKVILLE, Miss.–Mississippi State University and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will celebrate a new partnership, the first of its kind in the nation, with a public ceremony at MSU’s Hunter Henry Center.

On Wednesday [Nov. 5] at 10 a.m., administrators from MSU, the G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Veterans Administration Medical Center and the Veterans Health Administration will mark the celebration of MSU as being the only university campus in the nation to administer veteran’s health benefits in conjunction with the VA.

The university, with the Jackson VA, is offering polytrauma services–physical, occupational and speech therapies, along with mental health services services to not only students, but local residents as well.

Read more…

Montgomery Foundation Supports New MSU Veterans Facility

vet-on-campusOffice of Public Affairs
News Bureau (662) 325-3442
Contact: Amy Cagle

August 12, 2014

STARKVILLE, Miss. –The G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Foundation has made a $100,000 challenge commitment to the late U.S. Congressman’s alma mater for a new campus veterans center to be erected with private gifts on the Mississippi State campus.

“This is a most generous donation and a wonderful tribute to the late Sonny Montgomery who will always be remembered as a champion for assisting our servicemen and women,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. “Currently the veterans center is housed in an older building that cannot adequately serve this growing portion of MSU’s enrollment. A new home will enhance the educational and transitional environment for student veterans.”

The MSU master plan proposes the state-of-the-art facility to be built on the northern central portion of the Starkville campus. Thus far, $2.2 million is in hand from private contributions toward the construction, and an additional $1.5 million is still needed in gifts. Once completed, the building will house a large classroom/multipurpose room, a computer lab, study rooms and office spaces.

Brad Crawford, president of the Montgomery Foundation, said, “We are extremely proud to be among the contributors for this facility that will be a larger base of operations for veteran activity at
Mississippi State University.”

By stepping forward, the Montgomery Foundation seeks to encourage other private gifts to make the facility a reality, Crawford said.

At MSU, The G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans is a national leader in providing campus-based veteran resources in support of 2,000 currently enrolled student veterans, service members, dependents and survivors. The university’s 136 year-old land-grant institution been recognized for its veteran-friendly campus, most recently as a top 30 institution by U.S. News & World Report.

“This generous gift from the Montgomery Foundation celebrates the late Congressman Montgomery’s legacy of service to veterans,” said Ken McRae, director of the MSU center. “The gift will assist us in improving our support to MSU’s student veteran community now and in the future.”

A Meridian, Mississippi, native, Montgomery was a 1943 general business graduate of then Mississippi State College who served as Student Association president and was a member of the ROTC. Montgomery devoted three decades of his life to military service that included active duty in World War II and the Korean War. He retired from the Mississippi Army National Guard with the rank of major general after 35 years of service. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor awarded by the United States, in 2005.

Montgomery began his political career in 1956 with election to the Mississippi State Senate and would serve a decade in that role. In 1966, Montgomery was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and held office through the terms of seven presidents before retiring in 1996. He won national acclaim for his leadership in passing legislation for what become known as the Montgomery G.I. Bill and was known on Capitol Hill as “Mr. Veteran.”

The Montgomery Foundation was established prior to Montgomery’s death in 2006 at the age of 85. It currently supports scholarships for veterans at Mississippi State and has contributed to projects that further the Montgomery name and legacy at MSU and in his home state of Mississippi.

Gifts for the new veterans center are part of Mississippi State’s ongoing Infinite Impact campaign, and alumni and friends may contact Wes Gordon, director of development for the Division of Student Affairs, at 662-325-9129 or email him at to contribute.

More on the university’s veterans center may be found at To learn more about the Montgomery Foundation, visit