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July 16, 2010

HATTIESBURG, Miss. - United States Army Maj. Gen. Jeff Hammond, a former University of Southern Mississippi student-athlete and football standout, is joining the Golden Eagle athletic staff as a Senior Associate Director of Athletics.

"We are so pleased that one of the country's most distinguished military leaders in recent years and an outstanding former Golden Eagle student-athlete will join our staff," said Richard C. Giannini, director of athletics at Southern Miss. "He will have an incredible impact on our university, staff, coaches, student-athletes, donors and fans."

Pending approval from the Board of Trustees of the Institutes of Higher Learning, Hammond will retire from military service in September, and begin his new assignment at Southern Miss in mid-October. He will be primarily working in athletic development and fund raising.

Hammond began his military career in 1978 following graduation from Southern Miss, where he earned a Bachelor's and Master's Degree in Special Education. He was a quarterback (1976-78) and team captain for the Golden Eagle football team. Upon graduation, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant.

"We, my wife Diane and I, are excited and grateful to The University of Southern Mississippi and Richard Giannini for the opportunity to `return to our roots' and serve our beloved Alma Mater," said Hammond. "We are eager to come home to Hattiesburg as active members of the university family, working with the athletics staff and coaches and will `give our all' in promoting Golden Eagle athletics."

Most recently, Hammond commanded a division of 28,000 soldiers and their families at war for 15 months, resulting in long-term sustainable security across Baghdad, Iraq. Under unpredictable conditions his soldiers brought discipline and structure to Baghdad, doubling the size of the Iraqi Security Forces, building more than 200 schools, medical clinics and support facilities, creating more than 50,000 jobs and decreasing violence by over 80 percent. Under Hammond's leadership, Soldiers conducted the first-ever violence-free democratic election setting conditions for long-term successful governance and economic growth across Baghdad.

Hammond has served three combat tours along with a year-long deployment to Bosnia where he was a battalion commander for one of the initial entry forces. He also served tours of duty in the Pentagon with the Army and Joint Staff culminating as the Director for Army Mobilization and Current Operations while supporting simultaneous civil and military undertakings (Iraq, Afghanistan and Hurricane Katrina).

"It is the honor of my lifetime to receive this special opportunity to serve and work for the betterment of a university and community whose people I admire, and love," added Hammond. "I am forever indebted to The University of Southern Mississippi for caring and nurturing me as a college student, and young adult.

"The `fire is in my belly' as I look forward to joining the Golden Eagle Athletics team. It has been my dream throughout the years to one day return in service to our great university and its many constituents."

Hammond's professional military decorations include earning the Distinguished Service Medal twice, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit and The Bronze Star three times. In addition, he earned the Combat Action Badge and was awarded the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Army Staff Identification badges. He is a proud and honored member of both the University of Southern Mississippi Sports, and Alumni Halls of Fame.

Hammond and his wife Diane, also a USM graduate, have been married for 27 years. They have two children, Michael and Megan. The Hammonds will retire and transition from military life following 32 years of honorable and caring service to soldiers and their families.

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