Sonny Montgomery Dedicates Artillery Range At Camp Shelby - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

12/07/05

Sonny Montgomery Dedicates Artillery Range At Camp Shelby

A longtime Mississippi congressman helped dedicate a new training site at Camp Shelby on Wednesday.

The 35 million dollar heavy artillery range is named in honor of Sonny Montgomery.

The man known for his strong support of the military is especially proud of the new addition at Camp Shelby.

"On behalf of all those great soldiers who've fought for our freedom, Congressman Sonny Montgomery now cuts the ribbon to open our range," said Major General Harold Cross, as he stood beside Congressman Montgomery.

Future soliders who'll train on the range owe a debt of gratitude to the former congressman who helped make it happen.

"This range is going to be opened up and it's going to be the envy of all National Guard units and most regular Army units are going to flock to this place to do training on this multi purpose range," said General Cross.

The new range allows troops to practice firing the most advanced heavy artillery. Camp Shelby's gunnery ranges have been training soldiers over many years and multiple wars.

"I spent, like many of you in this audience today, I spent many summers down here at Camp Shelby. I never hit anything then and I don't know why I expect to hit anything now," said former congressman Montgomery.

Congressman Montgomery's ceremonial firing of an M-1 Abrams Tank scored a direct hit on the downrange target.

As he helped dedicate the artillery range that now bears his name, the longtime congressman recalled an event shortly after World War Two, when some in Washington wanted to close Camp Shelby. He and other leaders stepped forward to prevent that from happening.

"Some of us had something to do with opening the gates here at Camp Shelby back in 1946 and 47. That's been one of the proudest accomplishments. We saved Camp Shelby," Montgomery explained.

He helped save Camp Shelby then, while making certain now the base has the training capabilities it needs for defending freedom in the future.

"Thanks to everybody for coming. I appreciate it," said the longtime leader.

Initial planning for the new artillery range began some 17 years ago. Along with Congressman Sonny Montgomery, the late Senator John Stennis was also given credit for helping make the plans a reality.

By Steve Phillips

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