Family, friends, co-workers and dignitaries braved cold weather Thursday to attend the re-dedication of the Muskogee’s VA Medical Center as the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center.
The ceremony was held at the Muskogee Civic Center arena.
Montgomery, who died in 2002 at age 84, was one of only five Native Americans to win the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Rep. Dan Boren, D-Muskogee, described how Montgomery was determined to help other veterans long after retirement.
“After he went to work at the VBA (Veterans Benefit Administration), he worked 750 hours taking those vets from the parking lot to the facility (VA Medical Center).”
Montgomery, part Cherokee, was born July 23, 1917, near Long in Sequoyah County. He attended the Chilocco Indian School and graduated high school at Carnegie in 1936.
He attended Bacone College, then furthered his education at the University of Redlands in Redlands, Calif., where he earned a degree in physical education in 1940.
He received a battlefield commission as a second lieutenant shortly before sailing for Salerno, Italy.
Montgomery, who was 25 when he served as lieutenant, commanded an Army platoon fortified against the Germans at a beach near Anzio, south of Rome. His medal of honor was a result of an event on Feb. 22, 1944. Montgomery single-handedly attacked three enemy positions that endangered platoons under his command. His action resulted in 11 enemy deaths and the capture of 32 prisoners.
After five years of service, Montgomery worked as a contact representative for the Veterans Administration. When the Korean War began in 1950, he served as an instructor in Fort Benning, Ga. He was discharged in 1953 and returned to work at the Veterans Administration (now Veterans Affairs). He retired in 1972.
Near the end of the re-dedication ceremony, Montgomery’s widow, Joyce Montgomery asked to speak. Standing in front of the stage while Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith held the microphone for her, Joyce impressed the crowd with her impromptu remarks.
Re-dedication ceremony honors Jack C. Montgomery
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