G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery Mississippi State University to honor one of its own


The annual veterans recognition at the final Mississippi State home football game for the season is among one of the university’s special traditions. It’s a time to honor military heroes and their service, something MSU fans look forward to each year as Air Force planes fly overhead before the game and the Famous Maroon Band dedicates its halftime show to those who have given so much for this country.


On Saturday, Mississippi State will add a special recognition to its veterans tribute when the university honors the legacy of World War II hero, author of the 1984 GI Bill, and MSU alum G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery. As the Bulldog football team enters Davis Wade Stadium for its Senior Day game against Arkansas at 11 a.m. CST, players will be sporting commemorative Adidas “Statesman” uniforms inspired by “The Spirit of Sonny Montgomery” C17 plane named for the late U.S. representative.


Serving the Magnolia State for more than three decades in Washington, the congressman first served in the Mississippi Legislature from the mid 1950s until 1966 before going on to represent the people of the state’s 3rd District on Capitol Hill.

An indisputable advocate for veterans and their families, Montgomery was the author of the 1984 GI Bill that to this day provides servicemen, former members of the armed forces, and their dependents with funds for college.

On Monday [Nov. 12] during the university’s Veterans Day ceremony, MSU President Mark E. Keenum commented, “Mississippi State, our state and the United States are all better today because of Sonny Montgomery’s commitment to public service and leadership.”


The Meridian native served in the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant during World War II and was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor, Legion of Merit and Combat Infantry Badge. He also served during the Korean Conflict in the 31st National Guard Infantry Division and rose to the rank of Major General in the Mississippi National Guard.

President George W. Bush awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former Congressman Gillespie V. "Sonny" Montgomery for "meritorious contributions to the national interests of the United States." (File Photo/ Mississippi State University Special Collections)
Sonny rose quickly through the ranks in the Mississippi National Guard. (File Photo/ Mississippi State University Special Collections)
Sonny was a decorated combat veteran of World War II, earning the Bronze Star for Valor and Combat Infantry Badge. (File Photo/ Mississippi State University Special Collections)
After election to Congress, Sonny served in the National Guard without compensation. He's shown here eating a meal in the field at Camp Shelby. (File Photo/ Mississippi State University Special Collections)


A 1943 Mississippi State graduate, Montgomery’s mark on his alma mater and on those who’ve been called to serve is evident across campus. On the north end of the university sits the G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans at Nusz Hall, supporting military-connected students through focused programs and services designed especially for their needs.

Anchoring the southeast corner of MSU’s historic Drill Field – where the university’s first military-cadet students marched – is Mitchell Memorial Library, home to the Stennis-Montgomery Room. This room documents the life of Montgomery through his personally donated papers, along with those of John C. Stennis, also an MSU alumnus and a former U.S. Senator representing his home state of Mississippi. And, standing on the southwest corner of the Drill Field is a bronze statue of Montgomery, dedicated in 2005 to honor the congressman’s life work.


Mississippi State strives to carry on the legacy left by Montgomery through its service to more than 2,800 student veterans and by setting an example to other institutions through its designation by the Military Order of the Purple Heart as a “Purple Heart University.” The university also received the 2018 Military Friendly Schools Gold Medal and was named a “Military Spouse Friendly” school. Also, just this year, MSU began partnering with the Mississippi National Guard to offer a free tuition program to Guard members who enroll fulltime. Undergraduate and graduate veterans who apply to the university can do so free of charge.


Written by Harriet Laird, Office of Public Affairs | Photos by Mississippi State University Libraries Special Collections, Mississippi State University Photographers Logan Kirkland, Megan Bean and Beth Wynn | Video by the Mississippi State University Television Center

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