First African American Warrant Officer

Chief Warrant Officer Five (CW5) Arthur Montgomery:

CW5 Montgomery was raised in Batesville, Arkansas. He attended public schools in Batesville and graduated from Ethel O. Miller High School on May 24, 1964. In September 1964, he entered Philander Smith College and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology on May 28, 1968.

On the same day of his graduation from college, CW5 Montgomery joined the Arkansas Army National Guard. He was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 39th Infantry Brigade. He attended Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Polk, Louisiana.

In 1980, CW5 Montgomery was the first African American to attend the Arkansas Army National Guard Officer Candidate School. Unfortunately, he was met with some adversity. After spending nine months at Camp Robinson, he was preparing to graduate from the academy. CW5 Montgomery said, “Saturday night, a fellow came to me and told me, ‘When you leave here tomorrow, you won’t be back,’” Montgomery said. “The commandant said he never graduated a [black man], and he wasn’t going to start now.”

Although CW5 Montgomery did not complete the course, on October 15, 1975, he was appointed to and commissioned as Warrant Officer by Brigadier Harold Gwatney, Commander of the 39th Infantry Brigade. CW5 Montgomery was the first African American Warrant Officer in the Arkansas Army National Guard.

CW5 Montgomery was assigned as the 39th Infantry Brigade’s COMSEC Manager and served in that position until 1981. At that time, he was assigned to State Area Command (STARC) and served as the State COMSEC Officer/Inspector.

CW5 Montgomery worked for the Arkansas Unemployment Office in Batesville, and he retired as manager on December 31, 2006. While he was there, he served a five-county area: Independence, Sharp, Stone, Izard, and Fulton counties.

He has served as chairman of the Equalization Board, member of the Democratic Central Committee of Independence County and as a member of the Independence County Regional Museum Board. He also fulfilled his appointment by the governor to the state advisory board of the Department of Workforce Services and served on the board of trustees at Philander Smith College.