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Released May 16, 2003

SOUTHERN MISS GRAD LEAD FIRST WAVE OF GROUND FIGHTING IN IRAQ
By Bonnie J. Gibbs

HATTIESBURG - When Allied Forces began bringing in ground troops to fight the war in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Maj. Gen. Buford C. "Buff" Blount III and his soldiers were among the first on the battlefield.

Blount, a 1971 ROTC graduate from The University of Southern Mississippi, is commander of the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division, a post he has held since October 2001. He commands nearly 20,000 soldiers and 3,000 civilian employees in the mechanized division and oversees units stationed at Fort Stewart, Hunter Army Airfield and Fort Benning, Ga.

Before assuming the duties of commander, Blount was program manager for the Saudi Arabian National Guard Modernization Program.

"We are very proud of our son," said Blount's mother, Cecil, who lives in Bassfield. "It is quite an honor for him to have such a tremendous responsibility in this war."

Over the course of his 32-year career in the Army, Blount has served in a variety of command and staff positions. Some of his command assignments include commander, Combat Support Company and B Company, 3rd Battalion, 77th Armor, 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized), Fort Polk, La.; commander, A Troop, 15th Cavalry, 197th Infantry Brigade, Fort Benning, Ga.; commander, 3rd Battalion, 64th Armor, 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized), USAREUR and Seventh Army, Germany; commander, 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized), Fort Carson, Colo.

Blount, who was commissioned as an armor officer in 1971, is a graduate of the Armor Officer Basic Course, the Infantry Officer Advanced Course, the United States Army Command and General Staff College and the United States Naval War College, where he earned a master's degree in national security and strategic studies.

His awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit (with Oak Leaf Cluster), Meritorious Service Medal (with six Oak Leaf Clusters), and the Army Commendation Medal (with two Oak Leaf Clusters).

It seems as though military life runs in the Blount family. His father, B.C. Blount, now the mayor of Bassfield, is a retired Air Force colonel who flew combat missions in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM

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