Maj. Gen. Jeff Hammond has spent a lifetime serving his nation and community, including his 32 years in the military, his work as a campus leader for the University of Southern Mississippi, his time spent with Promise Keepers - a Christian ministry for men - and more.
To honor that, officials from William Carey University recently awarded Hammond with an honorary Honoris Causa - or doctor of public service - degree during a ceremony Sept. 10 at Bass Chapel on the WCU campus. Hammond is only the second individual to receive that honor from Carey, along with U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker.
“My wife reminded me that from little seeds grow great trees, and that’s what we have here,” Hammond said. “Years ago, when I left for the Army, this was William Carey College; today it’s William Carey University, and it’s a remarkable, distinguished university.
“It’s a great university, and when I think of William Carey, I consider three things. Number one, we value the Christian character. Number two, they expect great things from God. Number three, and more importantly, we attempt great new things for God."
Hammond majored in special education at Southern Miss, where he served as a campus leader for the USM chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and was active in Campus Crusade for Christ. He also played quarterback and served as captain of the football team.
Upon graduation, he entered into service with the U.S. Army and received his commission in 1979. Hammond deployed on four occasions, one involving enforcement of the Dayton Peace Accord in Bosnia, and three others to Iraq during the Global War on Terror.
His staff experience includes the director of Army Operations, Readiness and Mobilization, and duty with the Pentagon joint staff.
Hammond earned a Bachelor of Science and a master’s degree in education from Southern Miss, along with a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies, which he received during his years on active duty with the military. Throughout his military career, he attended numerous schools, including the Navy College of Command and Staff, and the Army War College.
Before and after every deployment, Hammond and his wife Diane - in consultation with Army chaplains - planned and presented married troops with self-help sessions to foster a healthy marriage climate.
Hammond was in The Pentagon during the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, when a plane slammed into the building, destroying his office and killing his entire staff. His duty culminated as the Commanding General, Multi-National Division Baghdad, where he led soldiers in Iraq for more than 15 months.
“A lot of you know Jeff Hammond as a great warrior, and that’s probably what his legacy will be,” said Richard Vogel, senior project manager at William Carey University. “But that’s not everything that I know.
“He’s a great teacher and a great mentor, and I can tell you that over 90 percent of the people that he’s ever been associated with in the military have succeeded because of this great man."
Hammond also has served as a church lector, provided Holy Communion to residents of The Claiborne at Hattiesburg Assisted Living, visited the sick and ill at home or while in medical care, participated in church-sponsored Bible study, and attended conferences with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students.
After he retired from the Army, Hammond rejoined Southern Miss, where he served as the chief fundraiser with the athletics department and as director of athletics. He currently serves as the director of the USM Center for Military Veterans, Service Members and Families, where he supports military veterans and their families in a Christian manner.
“General Hammond has demonstrated exemplary service to God and country,” said William Carey president Tommy King, reading from a proclamation issued to Hammond. “General Hammond and his wife Diane have been strong supporters of William Carey University."