“I Was So Proud To Be Here”: A West Point Graduate Reflects On His Service in Vietnam and Earning Three Silver Stars

Lewis Higinbotham


Lewis Higinbotham grew up in Amarillo, Texas. His father worked in the refining department of Texaco, and his mother stayed at home and took care of him and his older sister. As a young boy, Lewis yearned to be in the military. Entering West Point with the Class of 1962, he was very excited to become a part of the Long Grey Line. As a Cadet, he taught Sunday School and felt drawn to the stones of the old library because they represented the bedrock values of the Academy. He branched Infantry, because the Cold War was ongoing and he felt it was his best opportunity to engage communists. His first assignment, in 1963, was with the 46th Infantry in the 1st Armored Division at Fort Hood, Texas. From 1964 to 1967, he served multiple tours in Vietnam, working as a Vietnamese Ranger Advisor in the Mekong Delta. Following his first tour, he extended to serve with the 101st Airborne Division, as a platoon leader in B Company, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry. As a Reconnaissance Company Commander, he earned the Silver Star. Following his assignment with the 327th, he served in the 173rd Airborne Brigade during the Tet Offensive. His final assignment in Vietnam, was with the 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry, in the 9th Infantry Division, where he earned his second and third Silver Stars. In this interview, he talks about his experiences at West Point, highlighting those experiences that he continued to reflect upon in later years. He describes his lengthy service in Vietnam, discussing both the good and the bad. He provides a critique of American involvement in Vietnam, stating, “we didn’t understand the problem,” in that country. Finally, he reflects on how things had changed over his five years of service in-country, and about Congress cutting support, and the American public running out of patience. He feels that he “kept kids alive by doing the right thing,” and ends by expressing what West Point means to him.


name Lewis Higinbotham
institution USMA
graduation year 1962
service Infantry
unit 46th Infantry, 1st Armored Division; MAC-V Advisor; B Co, 1-327th IN, 101st ABN; B Co, 1-503rd IN, 173rd ABN; D Co, 4-503rd IN; 4th BN, 39th IN, 9th ID
service dates 1962 1983