AUGUSTA, Maine — Maj. Gen. John W. “Bill” Libby, head of the Maine National Guard since 2003 and commissioner of the state Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management, is stepping down.
Libby, 67, informed Gov. Paul LePage this week that he would retire effective March 16. No reason was given for Libby’s resignation, but his announcement comes less than a week after he postponed an address to a joint session of the Legislature so he could deal with an undisclosed family emergency.
LePage said he has accepted Libby’s resignation with regret and he praised the general for staying on when LePage took office last year.
“It is not something I wanted to do because the state of Maine is better for his service. He put Maine before himself when I asked him to stay on at the end of the last administration,” the governor said in a statement. “For over eight years, Gen. Libby has led the men and women of the Maine Army and Air National Guard, and he has done so with distinction. Our soldiers and airmen respect him, our veterans respect him, and our state was prepared for any emergency because of his leadership.”
Libby is a native of Lewiston and has undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Maine. He served in Vietnam in the late 1960s and joined the Maine Army National Guard in 1976. Libby has since held a variety of positions with the guard, including as deputy adjutant general from 1995 to 2002.
During a military career that spanned four decades, Libby has earned many service medals, including the Bronze Star, a Meritorious Service Medal and the Legion of Merit. He has overseen the mobilization of more than 4,000 Mainers in support of the global war on terror since 2003.
“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 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 [and] have fought with distinction in two simultaneous wars.”
LePage said his administration would announce an acting Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management commissioner in the coming weeks. A thorough search for Libby’s replacement will take place over the next few months and the governor said he hopes to have a new cabinet nomination by the summer.
That nominee would be subjected to review by the Veterans and Legal Affairs committee and would need to be confirmed by the Senate.
LePage also said Libby has offered to serve in other capacities in the future and the governor said he would certainly call on him when needed.