A publication of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

February 2002/March 2002

RICH MONTGOMERY  1947-2002

Richard L. Montgomery, the co-founder of VVA's Veterans Against Drugs Program, died from cancer in Philadelphia on January 15. He was 55 years old and is survived by his wife, Myra, and his three children, Michael, Richard, and Maria Margaret, along with his VVA family.

"Everyone in VVA will miss Rich Montgomery," said VVA National President Thomas H. Corey. "His service to his fellow veterans and to the young people of Philadelphia will be remembered forever. I can think of few others who have given more selflessly and helped more people in their community than he has." A 101st Airborne honor guard from Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, was among those paying tribute at the funeral.

Rich Montgomery was born in Atlantic City and brought up in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. He served as a machine gunner with Alpha Co. of the 2nd Battalion of the 101st Airborne Division's 327th Infantry in Vietnam. He was severely wounded in June 1966 when he was 19 years old in a brutal battle at Trung Luong in the Central Highlands. After being medevaced from the war zone, he spent nearly a year in hospitals undergoing physical therapy.

After overcoming battles with alcohol and drug addiction, Montgomery turned his life around and began counseling substance abusers. He received an M.A. in Human Services and soon thereafter began serving his fellow veterans. He became Director for Drug and Alcohol Intervention for the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

Inspired by the story of a young boy killed by drug dealers during a shootout in a rough Philadelphia neighborhood, Montgomery co-founded  with Tony Yates, the boy's father  Veterans Against Drugs in the early 1990s. Soon after that, he formed the Lost Dreams Coalition, a program that enlists artists to paint portraits of young murder victims  portraits that are displayed throughout Philadelphia. Both programs have received national recognition and widespread acclaim.

"Rich was very committed and passionate about improving the lives of children in the city and never lost focus on what he was doing," said Judy Ringold, who coordinates the Coalition. "He always had tons of creative ideas."

"Life to him was a battle. He was born to fight," said Montgomery's close friend David Christian. "Not for himself, but for his fellow men, women, and children."

"Rich will remain a driving force with Veterans Against Drugs and Vietnam Veterans of America," echoed Herb Worthington, who chairs VVA's Veterans Against Drugs Task Force.

   


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