Adjutant Gen. Michael Dubie fought tears on Thursday as he spoke with the press about his departure from the Vermont National Guard’s top post, which he’s held since 2006.
Though he’s headed out of Vermont later this month, Dubie isn’t leaving military service. President Barack Obama appointed the Essex native to serve as deputy commander of United States Northern Command. At NorthCom he will serve as a three-star general and specialize in national security issues.
While Dubie and his family plan to pack up and drive to NorthCom’s headquarters in Colorado, he’s not calling it home.
“I will tell you equally I’ll miss the Vermont Guard, but I’m a Vermonter, I’ll always be a Vermonter and I will be very happy –” the general could hardly finish the word, choking back tears – “when I get done and come back home.”
Dubie oversaw the biggest deployment of Vermont National Guard troops since World War II.
Dubie said he’s planning to stay on at NorthCom for two years. He said he isn’t sure what exactly will happen then, but he and his wife subdivided their Essex property before they sold their house. Their tentative plan is to return and build a house on the slice of land in his home town.
Gen. Tom Drew, who takes over as interim adjutant general of the Guard in a ceremony Friday morning, will serve until the Legislature appoints a permanent replacement for Dubie. Drew has served as Dubie’s second in command for the six years of his term and is familiar with the duties related to the post.
“Over the last two weeks we’ve sat down and had a number of discussions on recommended courses of action, I call them,” Dubie said. “Because ultimately, after tomorrow, it will be General Drew’s organization and he’ll decide how he wants to run the organization, what personnel decisions he may or may not choose to make, but I did give him a number of recommendations for him to consider in the future and to me I felt very good because I was able to … turn over some of the institutional knowledge that may not be written down but is engrained in me from six years of being the adjutant general.”
The pair sat down with Gov. Peter Shumlin Wednesday to talk about the change in command, and Dubie says he’s confident the Guard will be left in good hands.
“I think [Drew] knows the duties of the adjutant general better than anyone else in the Vermont National Guard today,” Dubie said.
Drew won’t be taking over the same National Guard Dubie did six years ago. Dubie oversaw the biggest deployment of Vermont National Guard troops since World War II. Over 1,500 troops went overseas as part of missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and South Korea. Hundreds more suited up to assist in national disasters, here in Vermont in the case of Tropical Storm Irene and flooding in the spring of 2011 and across the United States.
During his tenure, Dubie also saw the “recapitalization” of the Vermont Guard; the base has received millions of dollars in new equipment — artillery, Black Hawk and Lakota helicopters and trucks — over the last six years.
The controversial F-35, however, could be the biggest potential materiel investment for the Guard under his watch if the Air Force decides to base the stealth aircraft in Burlington.
While Dubie says he’s happy with the new equipment, his biggest source of pride is the personnel.
“We will always have things that we need to improve on, to build, or whatever,” he said. “I realize that we’ve done pretty good in the last six years, and what I’ll say tomorrow is as proud as I am that we’ve gotten all this stuff, it’s not what I’m most proud of. I’m most proud of the people, and that we have attracted in the last six years, people of character, and people of honesty, people –” Dubie’s eyes welled up as he paused again to gather himself, “and people who want to serve.”