Now everyone will know his name – his real name, that is. Ask his friends at the American Legion Hall Post #153 in New Auburn, and they’ll tell you that’s Tibby over there. What they really mean is Levite “Tibby” Dupuis, three times commander for the Rumford VFW, Past Commander for the New Auburn Legion and now its Finance Officer.

Known since childhood as “Tibby,” Dupuis joined the Army before he graduated from high school. “I was going to make a career out of it,” he recalled, so about a month after saying goodbye to Lewiston High School in 1965, he arrived for basic training at Fort Dix, NJ.

Destined to train as a “radar repairman,” he found it boring and asked to be transferred. From there, he landed in Baltimore, attending a school where he learned surveillance techniques. He also needed top clearance because he worked in high security areas, such as the mailroom, and while deployed to the supply field.

“Then I volunteered one time to go to Vietnam,” he said. “I was one who wanted to support the U.S. I was there for 11 months and 24 days, from December 1966 to December 1967.” He left just before the Tet Offensive, a military campaign initiated January 30 by the North Vietnamese during what was supposed to be a three-day cease-fire in honor of the Vietnamese New Year.

He recalls his first few days in Saigon when he and other soldiers boarded a truck headed for the Mekong Delta; however, for some reason, he was told to get off and given another assignment. “I heard later that truck was hit and some of the men were injured,” he said.

While in Vietnam, Dupuis first was stationed in Qui Knon. “When I got there, we began putting together a supply depot. Items would come off the ship and get sent ahead.” For nearly four months, he spent time within the jungle. “I used to watch over shipments of supplies so we would have some firepower. The worse part was when we had our first medevac,” he recalled. “They used to come in day and night, and we’d see the soldiers who had been wounded.”

Dupuis left Vietnam with six months left on his commitment to the military. He spent time at Fort Leonard, Missouri. “I was prepared to re-sign, but then I met my wife (while on leave) and never signed the papers.” They bought their first house using the G.I. Bill.

Instead of pursuing a military life, he spent time back home working with veterans.

“When I moved to Rumford, the Vietnam vets weren’t being recognized,” he said, “so I joined (the VFW) and got involved. Finally we had a big parade to welcome home the Vietnam veterans. I’ve always been one to volunteer.”

Today, Dupuis travels the state from Presque Isle to Madawaska to Sanford for Marden’s, in charge of its flooring department.

“Being in the Army taught me about life,” Dupuis said. He believes the training and discipline he experienced would be a good foundation for any young man or woman who wanted to “find out what life is all about,” he said, adding, “It teaches you how to cope with things.”


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