LePage announces resignation of Maine’s top military officer

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AUGUSTA – Gov. Paul LePage regretfully accepted the resignation of Major General John W. “Bill” Libby today, according to a press release issued by the governor’s office.

Libby serves as Adjutant General of the State of Maine and Commissioner of Defense, Veterans, and Emergency Management. The resignation is effective March 16.

No reason was given for Libby’s resignation, but the announcement comes six days after he postponed his scheduled address to a joint session of the Legislature so he could deal with an undisclosed family emergency.

“I have accepted the resignation of General Libby on his request. It is not something I wanted to do because the State of Maine is better for his service,” LePage said in a prepared statement.  “He put Maine before himself when I asked him to stay on at the end of the last administration.”

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For over eight years, Libby has led the men and women of the Maine Army and Air National Guard, and he has done so with distinction, the release stated.

“Our soldiers and airmen respect him, our veterans respect him, and our state was prepared for any emergency because of his leadership,” LePage said.

“Luckily for the State, he has offered to serve in other capacities in the future and I will certainly be calling upon him at the appropriate time. I wish him and his family nothing but the best.”

U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe echoed that high praise in a release from her office.

“It has been an inexpressible privilege to work with Major General Libby and I cannot commend him enough for his unparalleled dedication and service,” she said. “He exemplifies the National Guard motto ‘Always Ready, Always There,’ and Maine and the nation are deeply indebted to him for his abiding love of country and unwavering commitment to defending America. His leadership at the helm will be sorely missed.”

Libby, a Lewiston native, began his military career upon commissioning from the ROTC program at the University of Maine in June 1966 and held a variety of active duty command and staff positions in both Vietnam and the Federal Republic of Germany before joining the Maine Army National Guard in July 1975, according to the release.

During his time as Adjutant General, he has overseen the mobilization of over 4,000 Mainers in support of the Global War on Terror.

His awards include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, and Meritorious Service Medal with two bronze oak leaf clusters, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal with one bronze oak leaf cluster, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal with three bronze oak leaf clusters, and a variety of service and campaign medals.

“It has been my greatest privilege and honor to lead the Maine National Guard. Over the past decade, the Middle East and Afghanistan continues to test our Maine men and women in uniform and their families,” Libby said in a prepared statement. “As I tell our WWII veterans, they are the greatest generation but this nation is currently being served by another great generation who are 100 percent volunteer for the first time in our modern history have fought with distinction in two simultaneous wars.”

Libby also said the state and country owes veterans what has been promised to them.

“A decade of War has taken its toll on this nation, its treasure and this generation of warriors and we owe them what we promised them, our full support and necessary resources as they recover from their visible and invisible wounds,” Libby said. “The support of our governors during this decade has been magnificent and Governor LePage and the First Lady have continued that tradition.”

The LePage administration will announce an Acting Commissioner in the coming weeks, according to the release.

Maine law spells out certain requirements to serve as Adjutant General/Commissioner and the Governor will send letters to eligible National Guard personnel letting them know the process to apply.

“A thorough search will be conducted and the Governor expects to have a nomination for the Legislature’s summer confirmation session,” the release stated. “The nominee will be subject to review by the Veterans’ and Legal Affairs committee and confirmation by the Senate.”

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