Document Type

Oral History

Interviewee name

John W. Libby


Laura Tucker

Interview date


Interview location

Waterville, Maine





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Major General John W. “Bill” Libby (Ret.), interviewed by Laura Tucker, in Waterville, Maine on May 27, 1999. Libby speaks about graduating from ROTC at UMaine; field artillery training; volunteering for Vietnam; his view of protesters; being excited when he received his orders; attending “charm school” before deploying; shipping out; his two vivid memories of stepping off the plane in Vietnam; requesting to join the 1st Cavalry Division; being assigned to an artillery division; life on base in An Khe; serving as a liaison officer to an infantry battalion and as a battery commander; the Fishhook area north of Saigon; fear of dying late in his tour; the North Vietnamese infiltrating his home base; shutting out Vietnam after returning home; being ordered to wear civilian clothing while on an ROTC assignment at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; his realization American democracy would not work in Vietnam; interpersonal relationships; the meaning of the term "fragging;" having no contact with the South Vietnamese military; the surreal experience of going on R&R then returning to combat; being able to call home using the Military Affiliated Radio System (MARS); the role of religion while deployed; the slack discipline among his men but the professionalism of their work; the danger of ground attacks; the difficulty distinguishing members of the Viet Cong from 'friendlies'; carrying a picture of a man he killed and the impact of the man's death on him; the accuracy of the movie Platoon; wearing civilian clothes to fly home; deciding he wanted to get out of the Army; turmoil in the Army because of the War; life after Vietnam; managing emotions; his visits to the Wall memorial in Washington, D.C.; his view on politics and looking back on Vietnam. Text: 46 pp. transcript. Audio: mfc_na4476_01A, mfc_na4476_01B, mfc_na4476_02A. Time: 01:57:49.


Part 1: mfc_na4476_01A
Part 2: mfc_na4476_01B
Part 3: mfc_na4476_02A


Military History | Oral History | United States History

Birth date

December 25, 1943


Lewiston, Androscoggin County, Maine

Nation of origin

United States

Home state/Territory







Adjutant General, Maine National Guard



Jun 1966 - Oct 1967, Student, Student Detachment, First US Army, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland

Oct 1967 - Jan 1968, Student, Artillery and Missile School

Jan 1968 - Feb 1968, Student, Infantry School

Feb 1968 - Jun 1968, Liaison Officer, Headquarters, Headquarters Battery, Division Artillery, 2nd Artillery Division, Fort Hood, Texas

Jun 1968 - Feb 1969, Liaison Officer, later S2, Headquarters, 1st Battalion, 30th Artillery, Vietnam

Feb 1969 - Sep 1969, Commander, Service Battery, 1st Battalion, 30th Field Artillery, Vietnam

Sep 1969 - Aug 1970, Student, Field Artillery School

Aug 1970 - May 1973, Assistant Professor of Military Science, Reserve Officer Training Corps Instructor Group, University of Massachusetts

Jun 1973 - Jul 1973, Assistant S-3, Headquarters, 2nd Battalion, 377th Field Artillery, Germany

Jul 1973 - Nov 1974, Commander, Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 377th Field Artillery Germany

Nov 1974 - Jul 1975, Communications Officer, Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 37th Field Artillery, VII Corps, Germany

Jul 1975 - Feb 1976, United States Army Reserve Control Group

Feb 1976 - Aug 1981, Communications-Electronics Staff Officer, later Operations Intelligence Officer, Headquarters, 240th Engineer Group, Maine Army National Guard

Aug 1981 - Dec 1983, Assistant G3, Headquarters Detachment, Maine Army National Guard

Dec 1983 - Oct 1984, Supply Officer, Headquarters, State Area Command, Maine Army National Guard

Oct 1984 - Dec 1984, Senior Auditor, Headquarters, State Area Command, Maine Army National Guard

Dec 1984 - Oct 1991, Director, United States Property & Fiscal Officer Support Section, later Director of Logistics, later, Chief of Staff, Headquarters, State Area Command, Maine Army National Guard

Oct 1991 - Jun 1992, Commander, 240th Engineer Group, Maine Army National Guard

Jul 1992 - Jun 1994, Extra Position, Headquarters, State Area Command, Maine Army National Guard

Jul 1992 - Jun 1994, Task Force Commander, Fuertes Caminos 94 - North (Guatemala), Maine Army National Guard

Jul 1994 - Jul 1995, Director of Operations, later Deputy Adjutant General, Headquarters State Area Command, Maine Army National Guard

Jul 1995 - Sep 1995, United States Army Reserve Control Group (Retired)

Sep 1995 - Sep 1995, United States Army Reserve Control Group (Reinforcement)

Sep 1995 - Sep 2002, Deputy Adjutant General, Headquarters, State Area Command, Maine Army National Guard

Dec 2003 - Dec 2010, Adjutant General, Joint Force Headquarters, Maine National Guard

Branch of service

U.S. Army

Service Unit

1st Battalion, 30th Field Artillery

Dates of service

June 1966-December 2010; Vietnam June 1968-September 1969

Date of entry

June 1966

Service entry


Awards & Ribbons

Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (with 2 bronze Oak Leaf Clusters), Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal (with 1 bronze Oak Leaf Cluster), Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal (with 3 bronze Oak Leaf Clusters), National Defense Service Medal (with 1 bronze Service Star), Vietnam Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm, Army Reserve Components Overseas Training Ribbon with numeral 2, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal

Wars & Conflicts

Vietnam War

Entry Rank

O-1 2nd Lieutenant

Highest Rank

O-8 Major General

Exit Rank

O-8 Major General


Lewiston, Maine; Orono, Maine; Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Fort Hood, Texas; Germany; Okinawa; Boston; Travis Air Force Base, California; Portland, Maine; An Khe; Camp Evans; Saigon; Cambodia; Laos; Hawaii; Seattle, Washington


Vietnam War, 1961-1975; United States Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps; Letter writing; Artillery, Field and mountain; Military casualties; Fragging; Rest and Recreation; Christian religious education; Military discipline; Substance abuse; Sapper attacks

Collection name

Maine Vietnam Veterans Oral History

Collection number


Item number


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Maj. Gen. John W. “Bill” Libby (Ret.), interviewed by Laura Tucker, Part 2



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