The 2011 Spirit of America Audie Murphy Patriotism Award will be presented to
Lt. General Frank Libutti
Lieutenant General Frank Libutti is a retired United States Marine Corps Lieutenant General who also served as the head of the New York City Police Department’s Counter Terrorism Bureau, Deputy Police Commissioner, and oversaw the Department of Homeland Security’s intelligence operations as Undersecretary for Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection. Libutti’s military career included time spent in Vietnam, Japan, Korea, Kenya and Somalia among assignments within the United States during which he oversaw more than 80,000 Marines.
As New York City’s deputy police commissioner, Libutti oversaw more than 300 people working in the Counter Terrorism Bureau, which aims to prevent and prepare for any possible terrorism attack. He was named to this post in January 2002 by Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly who planned to increase the number of detectives assigned to the Joint Terrorist Task Force and reorganize the police contingent assigned to the task force, which works with the FBI. In his role, Libutti was responsible for counterterrorism training, prevention and investigations and served as a liaison to state and federal agencies.
Libutti was nominated by President George W. Bush in 2003 to serve as the Undersecretary for information analysis and infrastructure protection at the Department of Homeland Security. He was the first person nominated for the new position in the then two-month-old Homeland Security Department. In addition to traditional counterterrorism and security measures, Libutti’s tenure included the launch of a cyber alert system that was part of the initiative to secure cyberspace as well as initiatives designed to protect stadiums and sporting event attendees.
At the time of his retirement from the U.S. Marine Corps, Lieutenant General Frank Libutti was the Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific/Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific/Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Bases, Pacific headquartered at Camp H. M. Smith, Hawaii. He assumed command on June 22, 1999.
General Libutti is a native of Huntington, Long Island, New York. Following graduation from The Citadel, he entered the Marine Corps Officer Candidate Program in August 1966 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in October of that year. In March 1967, he was assigned to duty with the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines in Vietnam, where he served as an Infantry Platoon Commander.
Lieutenant General Libutti’s exploits during Operation Buffalo, which took place near Con Thien, Republic of Vietnam from July 1-14, 1967, are chronicled in a book titled “Operation Buffalo,” written by Keith W. Nolan. One incident worthy of mention that occurred during the engagement in which he received the Silver Star Medal is that on two separate occasions enemy hand grenades were thrown at him, bouncing off him, failing to explode.
On July 2, 1967, Libutti, then a second lieutenant, distinguished himself while serving as a platoon commander with the Marine Corps in the Republic of Vietnam. On that date, he was given the mission of reinforcing a beleaguered Marine company, which had sustained heavy casualties and was in danger of being overrun by a numerically superior North Vietnamese Army force.
Upon arrival, Libutti’s platoon assumed the point position, and while maneuvering forward, came under enemy small arms and automatic weapons fire. As his unit approached the besieged unit, the enemy commenced a vicious artillery and mortar attack. Although he was wounded during the barrage, Libutti ignored his painful injuries and assisted in placing casualties aboard tanks for evacuation. As the intensity of the attack increased, he sustained a second wound; however, he steadfastly continued to assist the wounded.
While his unit maneuvered to the landing zone, Libutti was wounded a third time. Disregarding his own safety, he continued to lead his platoon and only after he was assured that all casualties had received medical treatment and were evacuated did he submit to medical evacuation. For his courage, superb leadership and selfless devotion to duty at great personal risk, Libutti received the Silver Star Medal for conspicuous gallantry and three awards of the Purple Heart Medal for wounds received in action.
In 1968, he returned to Quantico for duty at the Officer Candidates School. During this tour, he served consecutively as Chief Instructor, Tactics Section; Commanding Officer, and Branch Head, Academic Section. He was promoted to captain in November 1969. Upon completion of his duties at Quantico, he remained there to attend the Amphibious Warfare School.
General Libutti transferred to Amphibious Squadron THREE, San Diego, California, in 1972, for duty as Squadron Combat Cargo Officer. Upon completion of a two-year tour there, he was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 2d Marines, 2d Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, as an Infantry Company Commander for 14 months, followed by staff positions at the Battalion Headquarters. There, he served as the Logistics Officer and later as the Operations Officer.
Promoted to major in May 1977, General Libutti was reassigned as the Executive Officer, Marine Barracks, Naples, Italy. He returned from overseas in August 1980 to attend the Command and Staff College at Quantico. Following graduation, he was transferred to Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, D.C., for duty as the Head of the Career Management Section, Manpower Department. In May 1982, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and reassigned as the Assistant Secretary of the General Staff for the Office of the Assistant Commandant and Chief of Staff, where he served through May 1983. He was reassigned in June 1983 as the Senior Marine Aide to the Commandant of the Marine Corps.
From August 1985 until June 1986, General Libutti attended the National War College, Washington, D.C. Following graduation, he was assigned as the Executive Officer, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, California. General Libutti was reassigned as the Commanding Officer of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, where he remained in command until October 1987, when he was designated as the Commanding Officer, Contingency MAGTF 1-88 and promoted to colonel.
Returning to Camp Pendleton in May 1988, General Libutti served as the Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence, 1st Marine Division. He assumed command of the 11th MEU in August 1988 and remained in command until July 1990. The following month, General Libutti was reassigned to the Office of the Chairman, Joint Chief of Staff, for duty as the Marine Corps Member of the Chairman’s Staff Group. While serving in this capacity, he was selected in December for promotion to brigadier general and was promoted to that grade on March 23, 1992. General Libutti was then assigned as the Commander, Forward Headquarters Element/Inspector General of the United States Central Command, MacDill AFB, Fla., on July 10, 1992. On August 18, 1992, he was designated Commanding General, Joint Task Force Provide Relief (emergency airlift of food to Somalia and Kenya), a position he held until November 1992, at which time he resumed his duties in Tampa.
He was promoted to major general and assumed duties as Commanding General, 1st Marine Division on July 22, 1994. He served as the Division Commander until June 7, 1996. During his last assignment, he served as the Commanding General, III Marine Expeditionary Force/Commander, Marine Corps Bases Japan until June 8, 1999.
General Libutti received the Defense Distinguished Service Medal while serving as the Assistant Chief of Staff C/J-5, United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command, United States Forces Korea and as Commander, Marine Forces Korea. He held this position from June 20, 1996 until July 20, 1997. He was promoted to his current rank of Lieutenant General on July 10, 1997.
General Libutti’s personal decorations include: Defense Distinguished Service Medal (first award), the Silver Star Medal; Defense Superior Service Medal with two bronze oak leaf clusters; Legion of Merit with gold star; Purple Heart with two gold stars; Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal; Republic of Korea Chonsu Medal: and the Combat Action Ribbon. General Libutti was also presented with the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, by the Emperor of Japan for service dedicated to the security of Japan and the mutual cooperation between Japan and the United States.