Retired Congressman G.V. Sonny Montgomery Tuesday presented the Outstanding Junior ROTC Cadet" awards, which bear his name, to Dominique Grace of Kemper County High School, Troy D. Harper of Northeast Lauderdale High School and Terrance Smith of Meridian High School.
Montgomery said this part of the state has always been supportive of the military.
"We've got to have a strong military in this country, and where that starts is in the Junior ROTC programs in your high schools," said Montgomery.
All three received the awards in a ceremony at Mississippi State University-Meridian campus.
"This is a meaningful experience for these young people and the parents and the schools," said organizer Harold Keyes, who served under then-Capt. Montgomery's command in the Korean conflict, "They bring honor on themselves. They bring honor on the community and on their school."
Cadet Grace said she has learned discipline, gained confidence, and developed a positive attitude from her ROTC experience.
"I learned first from serving as a follower, watching and learning from leaders I admired and then stepped up as a leader, myself," said Grace.
Grace plans to study nursing at Meridian Community College in the fall.
Cadet Harper will report to Paris Island on June 7, where the U.S. Marines will be waiting for him to join them.
"Our ancestors fought in wars for our freedom," said Harper. "Now I want to serve my country so that my kids will be free."
As he heads to the University of Georgia to major in political science, Cadet Smith said ROTC has helped him attain his 3.9 GPA by learning to stay focused. He also said he was appreciative of the leadership skills he learned and felt good about being able to give back to the community through various service projects in which he has been involved.