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NEWS | Oct. 27, 2006

Davis receives highest Guard Bureau award

By Staff Sgt. Rebecca Doucette National Guard Bureau

WASHINGTON - The heartfelt words of retired Sgt. 1st Class John Allen said it all during his tribute to Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia upon his receipt of the Gen. G. V. ‘Sonny’ Montgomery Award from the National Guard Bureau Oct. 25 at the Rayburn House Office Building.

“Those of us who were off orders, not being paid, being refused medical treatment, were a powderkeg of negative publicity waiting to erupt. Davis chose to use a little powder every day and bring light and warmth to a cold and dark situation rather than lighting the keg,” Allen said.

He was speaking of his Virginia National Guard colleagues who were injured while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. They returned home to find out that they were “only one of many” who were facing significant obstacles trying to receive the benefits they were due. “Congressman Davis’ spark had been lit, and he told all of us that he would do something about it, and he did. He and his staff … to this day are constantly pushing to ensure that we are ever increasing our care of Soldiers in the National Guard.”

Each year the National Guard Bureau recognizes a person who has demonstrated exemplary service to the National Guard at the national level and whose performance exceeds the normal scope of public or private service in support of the nation’s defense. LTG H Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, presented Davis with the award named in honor of “Mr. National Guard”, the late Rep. ‘Sonny’ Montgomery from Mississippi, for his work on behalf of Citizen-Soldiers.

The Montgomery Award is the top honor the chief of the National Guard Bureau can bestow upon an individual who exhibits the highest integrity, competence and the ability to inspire others.

Montgomery was responsible for establishing the Montgomery G.I. Bill in 1984, allowing thousands of Soldiers and servicemembers to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Montgomery retired from the Mississippi National Guard as a major general while serving 30 years in Congress, including membership on the Committee on Veteran’s Affairs. He passed away May 12 in Meridian, Miss.

Davis is chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, which investigates mismanagement at the Department of Defense and Department of the Army. His work has uncovered the department’s lack of policy or sufficient funding to help the Guard meet its post-9/11 homeland security obligations, air defense responsibilities, and the dangers posed by state Guard units leaving military equipment abroad.

Davis also chaired the House Bipartisan Select Committee on Hurricane Katrina, which illustrated the tremendous work of the National Guard’s response efforts. During the current 109th Congress, Davis introduced the National Defense Enhancement and National Guard Empowerment Act in the House of Representatives and rallied 86 other co-sponsors in the process.

Davis spent eight years in the Virginia National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve after a two-year stint on active duty. He represents the 11th Congressional District of Virginia, which is home to National Guard troops who drill at the 29th Infantry Division Headquarters at Fort Belvoir and the National Guard armory in Manassas, Va.

“Congressman Davis is a true leader, who leads from the front. He not only identified the problem he was personally instrumental in coming up with corrective courses of action, to correct the problems, and ensure, which was the most important thing, that they were implemented in a timely manner,” Allen said.

“Congressman Davis, in my opinion, has personally made the single largest impact on the reform of the military care of [National Guard] Soldiers. You Congressman Davis are a never give up guy,” he added.

Blum said “Chairman Davis has rightfully earned this award, not because he’s ‘Mr. National Guard’, but because he’s concerned about the issues that are right for how we’re going to protect our nation. And if we do what’s right for America, we will do what’s right for the National Guard. It’s not about protecting the National Guard, it’s about protecting the United States.”

“He understands the Guard because he has lived the Guard, when the Guard was not as well resourced, not as well organized, not as well trained, and in many cases not as well led, and not as well supported in Congress as it is today,” Blum said.

In concluding the ceremony Davis spoke to the attendees on some of the specific achievements his committee has accomplished. “In early 2004 our committee found that over 80 percent of the Army National Guard Soldiers deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq were being paid incorrect amounts. ... Corrective actions, short and long term, are being implemented now to prevent costly errors and pay Citizen-Soldiers what they’ve earned,” Davis said.

“It would take five Tom Davis’ to equal a Sonny Montgomery. He left a legacy that I think it would take several of us to fill,” Davis added. “I am humbled and inspired to be recognized by the Guard Bureau in the name of Sonny Montgomery. His vision and spirit will continue to guide our work for the men and women in the National Guard.”

 

 

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