Bulldogs honor Montgomery, veterans with uniforms

Mississippi State Army ROTC cadet Logan Locke models a new uniform to be worn by the Bulldogs in their Nov. 17 game against the Arkansas Razorbacks. The uniforms pay tribute to Sonny Montgomery and the C-17 Globemaster III aircraft named for him. (Photo by Charlie Benton, SDN)

Staff Writer

When the Mississippi State University Bulldogs take the field against the Arkansas Razorbacks on Nov. 17, the team will honor one of MSU’s most influential alumni and the veterans he loved.

At a Monday press conference at the G.V, “Sonny” Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans, the university announced that the Bulldogs would play the game in uniforms recognizing Montgomery. Montgomery graduated from MSU in 1943, and immediately went to serve in the European theatre of World War II. After returning from the war, Montgomery remained an officer with the Mississippi Army National Guard. After being elected to Congress, Montgomery drafted numerous pieces of legislation supporting veterans, including the Montgomery G.I. Bill, which has sent numerous veterans through higher education nationwide.

The uniforms are based on the paint scheme of a Mississippi Air National Guard C-17 Globemaster III named “The Spirit of Sonny Montgomery.” The uniforms are gray, with writing and numbers in a similar font to those on the aircraft. The uniform helmets are hand-painted with a similar motif to the aircraft’s tail. Medals won by Montgomery will also be painted on the helmet.

A commemorative jersey will be available to the public through select local retailers and the Adidas website.

G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans Director Brian Locke thanked the university for designing a uniform to honor veterans annually.

“As the director of the Sonny Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans, you know, to have a uniform that’s in honor of Sonny Montgomery that is just a symbol of what we do here at the Center for America’s Veterans, with the G.I. Bill and his past military service,” Locke said.

Locke, who retired from the U.S. Army as a lieutenant colonel, emphasized the importance of honoring those who have served.

“I think it’s very important to have some type of recognition whether it’s a football game, or it’s a ceremony just to tell people, hey, we appreciate your service. We appreciate what you’ve done for us," Locke said. “It’s just a visual symbol of that appreciation, and I know folks across campus who appreciate when we do these types of things."

Sonny Montgomery Foundation President Bra Crawford spoke of the event’s significance. He also said the foundation had recently given the center $100,000 for veteran scholarships.

“This is a great opportunity to honor the legacy of Sonny Montgomery,” Crawford said. “Sonny Montgomery dedicated his life to veterans and the military, so there’s no better, more perfect tribute than this, of course, with all the connections he’s got with Mississippi State.”

Crawford said Montgomery, who died in 2006, would have loved to see his name on the uniforms and known the team would actually take to the field in them.

”I don’t think there could be anything that could top that for him,” Crawford said.

Mississippi State Assistant Athletics Director for Marketing and Branding Rhett Hobart said the process of designing the uniforms had begun three years out.

"If you look at the details of it, the “State” on the chest is the same font as the plane,” Hobart said. “The helmet matches the tail of the plane, and the back of the helmet has all of the different medals and recognitions that Sonny Montgomery had.”

The kickoff time for the MSU vs. Arkansas game will be announced at a later date.