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Veteran of the Year Samuel O. Massey, Jr., M.D.

Samuel O. Massey, Jr., M.D., will be recognized for his service in the United States Air Force and the Tennessee Air National Guard at Holmes Community College on Oct. 27 in Goodman.

Upon graduating from Pelahatchie High School at the age of 16, Dr. Massey moved to San Antonio, Texas, to enter the enlisted ranks. One month later, he became a charter member of the U.S. Air Force. He served with a B-29 bomber group in Spokane, Washington, for six months before completing a short tour of duty in the Panama Canal Zone and a longer tour at the Ramey Air Force Base (AFB) Puerto Rico during the start of the Korean War.

After being discharged from the Air Force, Dr. Massey went straight to Goodman where he entered Holmes Junior College and earned his degree in mathematics and science. He was named Most Intellectual, president of student body, president of the YMCA and president of the Baptist Training Union.

Following graduation from Holmes in 1953, Dr. Massey received his medical degree from University of Tennessee College of Medicine in 1956. After 12 years of working in a medicine and surgery practice in Picayune, he entered Tulane Medical School to specialize in otolaryngology and head and neck surgery. He received board certification in otolaryngology, cosmetic/plastic surgery and facial plastics and reconstructive surgery.

Upon finishing his training at Tulane, Dr. Massey opened his own practice in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, while simultaneously joining the Tennessee Air National Guard, where he was promoted to colonel and clinic commander in 1980. During this time, he completed the professional military education courses of Air Command and Staff College, Air War College and the National Defense University. Just as Dr. Massey was on the brink of retirement, the AF offered him the positions Chief of ENT and Chief of Surgery at Eglin AFB in Valparaiso, Florida, and he accepted. After completing his four-year contract with Eglin, he returned to San Antonio to serve as Chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology for Wilford Hall Medical Center. 

Dr. Massey created the Massey Medical Scholarship through the Mobile Medical Mission Hospital, Inc. in 1990 and touched the lives of 70 recipients by providing funding for these students to continue their education in a medical field of their choice. In 1993, he was honored with The Excalibur Award as the Air Force’s Outstanding Clinical Surgeon and in 1994, was chosen as the National Recipient for the Annual Humanitarian Award by the Academy of Otolaryngology.

Following his stint at Wilford Hall, Dr. Massey was selected as Commander of the Air Transportable Hospital in Cuba to work with the 45,000 Cuban and 15,000 Haitian boat people. He returned to Cuba twice more as a volunteer professor of surgery. Dr. Massey returned to Englin AFB as a flight surgeon and over the tenure of his last 12 years of duty, held teaching positions at Tulane, University of Mississippi, University of Texas, U.S. School of Clinical Sciences Medical Schools and Army Schools of Aerospace Medicine. He is on the editorial review board for the Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine Journal and served on the Space Shuttle Medical Launch and Recovery Team.

Dr. Massey reflected on three of his instructors while at Holmes — Mrs. Frank Branch, G.J. Everett and John P. Mitchell.

“I owe my career and life to Holmes Junior College,” Dr. Massey said. “I am eternally grateful to you for that.”

Dr. Massey, now retired, is a full-time medical mission volunteer, and said he will go “any place, anywhere, anytime,” to help those in need. He and his wife, Jamie of Jackson, reside in Ridgeland and have six children, 16 grandchildren and multiplying great grandchildren. The Auditorium in the Science and Mathematics Building on the Goodman Campus is named in his honor.