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Released April 1, 2004


HATTIESBURG -- A University of Southern Mississippi Hall of Fame member who commanded the Third Infantry Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom will be the guest speaker at the Army ROTC Military Ball on April 17.

Maj. Gen. Buford C. Blount, a 1971 graduate of Southern Miss who received his commission through the ROTC program, will address cadets, their families and distinguished military guests at the Graham Building in Purvis. An annual event held each spring, the black-tie affair is a social gathering in which the cadets are introduced to the social side of military service. Activities begin at 6:15 p.m.

"It is a huge honor for us to have Maj. Gen. Blount as our guest speaker," said Lt. Col. Kevin Dougherty, chair of the Department of Military Science at Southern Miss.

"The Army only has 10 active duty divisions and Maj. Gen. Blount commanded one of them. On top of that, he commanded it in Iraq-- leading the drive to Baghdad. He's a great inspiration and role model for all of us in Southern Miss ROTC."

Inducted into the Southern Miss Hall of Fame in 2003, Blount is currently the assistant deputy chief of staff for Plans and Operations in Washington, D.C.

Maj. Gregory Hargett, professor of Military Science at Southern Miss, said, "As a Southern Miss Army ROTC alumnus, Maj. Gen. Blount has significantly contributed to the great lineage of this program and our university by his leadership and service to this nation in the liberation of Iraq."

The Hattiesburg High School JROTC Color Guard will also be present to post the national and state flags at the beginning of the ball.

An awards ceremony will recognize cadets for their outstanding achievements, including the George C. Marshal Award and the Department of the Army Superior Cadet Award.

Army ROTC is an elective taken along with a student's required college courses. After successfully completing Army ROTC, students are commissioned as officers in the active Army, National Guard or Army Reserve.

"Being an officer in the U.S. Army means being a leader, a counselor, a strategist and a motivator," Maj. Bob Sybert said. "It's similar to being a vital manager in a corporation. Officers lead other soldiers in all situations and adjust to environments that area always changing."

For more information, contact Lt. Col. Kevin Dougherty at (601) 266-4456 or or Maj. Bob Sybert at (601) 266-4709 or You can also visit the Southern Miss Army ROTC Web site at


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM