• 66°

Former Brookhavenite gets rare MSU Army ROTC honor

A former Brookhavenite received a rare honor Friday when hebecame the first soldier in six years to be inducted into theMississippi State University Army ROTC Bulldog Battalion’sDistinguished Alumni Hall of Fame.

Col. (Ret.) Dwight Dyess, of West Point, became the hall’s 12thmember during the Bulldog Battalion’s Cadet Spring Formal.

“I was totally surprised,” Dyess said. “Having known everyonewho has gone into it, it is quite an honor.”

The first member of the Hall, former U.S. Rep. Sonny Montgomery,was inducted in 1978.

Lt. Col. Marcus Majure, professor of military science at MSU,said the Bulldog Battalion has not inducted any new members since2001 because the requirements are strict and its membership isintentionally kept small.

“It is not something that has to be done, but if you havesomeone who goes beyond the call of duty in support of thisprogram, the local community and also meets the selection criteria,then it’s the right thing to do,” Majure said. “It’s a huge honorand it may be years again before someone else is selected.”

Dyess was raised in Hattiesburg and graduated from HattiesburgHigh School in 1967, but he moved with his parents, Modena and thelate Lonnie Dyess, to Brookhaven that same year.

“Brookhaven is special to me and my family,” he said. “All threeof my siblings graduated from Brookhaven High School. I worked alot of summer jobs in Brookhaven.”

Dyess said he worked on a road construction crew for a privatecompany and with Mississippi Power and Light for several years inthe summer while attending Mississippi State University.

It was former Brookhaven Mayor Doug Sullivan who convinced Dyessto enter the U.S. Army Reserve in 1972 as a second lieutenant afterhe graduated MSU with a Bachelor of Science degree in businessadministration. He later earned a Master of Science degree ineconomics from the university.

Sullivan was commander of the local Army Reserve unit at thetime.

“I was trying to decide what to do and Doug convinced me to jointhe Army,” Dyess said. “He had several lieutenant slots open heneeded to fill here.”

Dyess served two years under Sullivan.

“He was a very good officer – very intelligent and dedicated.He’s still a good officer,” Sullivan said.

Although his civilian and military careers carried him acrossthe state, Dyess returned to Southwest Mississippi to serve as theintelligence officer for the 155th Separate Armored Brigade,headquartered in McComb, during Operation Desert Storm. He alsocommanded Brookhaven’s 1st Battalion, 155th Infantry from 1996 to1997.

Dyess said he had never really considered a military career, butit stuck.

He retired in 2001 after 29 years in the Mississippi NationalGuard and Army Reserve. Among his many decorations are the Legionof Merit and Meritorious Service medals. He is a DistinguishedKnight of the Order of Saint George.

Dyess continues to serve his country and state as a civilianaide to the Secretary of the Army for Mississippi. Civilian aidesare ranked just below lieutenant generals and are considered as thesecretary of the Army’s personal representatives.

In his role as a civilian aide, Dyess is an adviser to thesecretary of the Army, the chief of staff of the Army and seniorArmy commanders whose areas of responsibility include Mississippi.He serves as a key liaison for the military to communicate Armymessages to communities within the state and for those communitiesto pass on their needs to the Army.

Dyess is president of Bancorp South in West Point. He is also aboard member and treasurer of the West Point-Clay County CommunityGrowth Alliance and a member of the town’s Rotary Club.

Prior to moving to West Point, he was executive vice presidentof external affairs for the banking company. He was also presidentof the Pine Belt Division, with responsibilities in Forrest,Jasper, Jones, Lamar and Wayne counties.

Other community-oriented activities he has been involved in arechairman of the Hattiesburg-based Area Development Partnership,vice chairman of the Forrest County Industrial Park Commission andchairman of the Hattiesburg Tourism Commission. He is a pastpresident of the Hattiesburg Downtown Association and the UnitedWay of Southeast Mississippi. He is a past member of the SoutheastMississippi Salvation Army Board and has served on the Universityof Southern Mississippi Foundation Board and the USM College ofBusiness Administration Advisory Council, among others.

He is married to the former Kathy Lee of Yazoo City. The couplehave one son, Walker. The Dyesses are communicants of the EpiscopalChurch of the Incarnation, where he is a member of the financecommission.