The autobiography of the Mississippi Congressman who spearheaded the drive for the revamped G.I. Bill
Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1966, Democrat G. V. "Sonny" Montgomery represented Mississippi's Third District in Congress for fifteen terms, serving under seven presidents. Sonny Montgomery: The Veteran's Champion, his autobiography, renders a very personal history of nearly forty years in public life.
Advocacy for veterans, the lodestar of his career, came from personal experience and conviction. In 1945, he helped capture a German machine gun nest and earned the Bronze Star Medal for Valor. With self-effacing humility he recalls World War II and his return to duty in Korea.
Among many accomplishments, he ranks one as his most outstanding. He rallied the votes to pass the bill named for him, The Montgomery G.I. Bill (HR 1657), which overhauled the original 1947 legislation by extending benefits to thousands of soldiers in the nation's all-volunteer service.
Chairing the select committee on POWs and MIAs, he and investigators determined whether Vietnam, Cambodia, and other theaters of war were holding American servicemen captive.
Montgomery comments on the Presidents he worked with and knew personally--the erratic Richard Nixon, the affable Gerald Ford, the stern Jimmy Carter, and the congenial George H. W. Bush.
During Ronald Reagan's presidency, Montgomery became a charter member of the "Boll Weevils," a coterie of southern and other Democrats. He discloses how the group was formed and how and why its members broke party lines to support a Republican President's legislative agenda.
Now a senior statesman known affectionately on Capitol Hill as "Mr. Veteran," Montgomery reflects on both his political and personal life, his friendships with Senator John C. Stennis and other powerful figures, and his varied political accomplishments. Sonny Montgomery: The Veteran's Champion is a fullfilling story of a Mississippi hero invigorated by life in public service.
G. V. "Sonny" Montgomery lives in Meridian, Mississippi, and Washington, D.C., where he is still an active veterans' advocate.
Michael B. Ballard, coordinator of the Congressional and Political Research Center at Mississippi State University, has published Pemberton: The General Who Lost Vicksburg and Civil War Mississippi: A Guide (both from University Press of Mississippi).
Craig S. Piper is an archivist at the Congressional and Political Research Center at Mississippi State University.
240 pp., 20 b&w photographs