MEXICO — In 1969, John Madigan was building roads in Vietnam. Forty-three years later he is still building roads, albeit in Mexico.

Madigan, 61, Mexico’s town manager, celebrated the new year marking his seventh year of employment with the town.

Madigan says there are many accomplishments during his years in Mexico he is proud of, but work on road projects and the replacement of the Thad White Bridge are at the top of his list.

Madigan said it was a long process to finally have the state pick up their share of replacing the deteriorating bridge.

He has also worked to secure $2.2 million in bonds for work on roads in Mexico.

Madigan said his experience in the army helped to prepare him for the bridge and road projects he would take on later in his career.

Madigan entered the army when he turned 18 and was deployed to Vietnam with the 523rd Engineer Company. He was a salvage diver and worked on many of the roads and bridges in Vietnam.

His position in the army required him to use scuba gear to dive and then weld underwater or attach explosives to bridge pylons.

When asked about being in a war zone and working in a dangerous environment with explosives, he said, “I was 18, and it seemed cool. You don’t think of the danger when you are that young.”

Madigan reminisced about his 21st birthday being in Vietnam and how swim trunks were his uniform.

Madigan later went on to serve as town or city manager in municipalities around Maine, including Monson, Eastport, Rumford and Mexico.

After graduating from the University of Orono in 1978 at the age of 28 he was hired by the town of Monson, he said.

“It was a small town, and they needed a young guy who could work every job they needed,” he said.

Madigan said he wore every town hat imaginable, from plowing roads to tax collector. He said the smaller the town the more involved a town manager had to be.

“When I interviewed for the job, they asked me if I had a class two drivers license,” he said. “I told them I didn’t, and they said I would with the job.”

After leaving Monson and spending time in Eastport as the acting city manager, he was hired in 1985 as Rumford’s town manager.

“After a while the job really grows on you,” Madigan said. “You’re never bored, and it’s never dull. It’s different everyday, and it is very challenging,” he said.

Madigan’s life has slowed down some, but he still remains busy with his career and family.

Madigan has seven children and said his 12th grandchild is expected to arrive soon.

In 1997, Madigan’s home was severely damaged in a fire and he spent the next year rebuilding.

“We lived in a tent,” he said. “We had a campfire in the backyard every night. That probably was the best year of my life.”

Since Madigan’s children have grown and the house has been rebuilt, he has spent his time away from work enjoying gardening and landscaping.

“My wife, Mary, and I both grew up in the city, so when we moved to Maine it was like John and Mary’s big adventure,” he said.

Madigan says he grows all varieties of vegetables and herbs and even has pear trees and grapes growing in the backyard. He said he cans and freezes all his produce and shares his haul with his children.

“Some days in this job you just want to go home and play in the dirt,” he said.

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