Colonel Les Gibbings, 73, died on December 11, 2006 in Fayetteville, NC after a lengthy illness. Burial services were held at West Point Military Academy and the National Cemetery with full military honors in December. Les was a western Massachusetts native, born and bred in Springfield, Massachusetts, the son of the late Leslie and Ann Marie Cote Gibbings. He was one of eight children. Many Springfield natives with whom I spoke remember Les as an active class president in his senior year at Cathedral High School and a very good football player. Coincidentally, Jim Krumsiak ’58 was also a member of the same Cathedral High School class and played on the same athletic teams as Les.
Entering Amherst in the fall of 1953 he immediately made an impact on the freshman football team as a star halfback. Although he only attended Amherst for his freshman year, Les is still well remembered by other class members for his open and friendly demeanor. He was well established on a successful career at Amherst when he received an appointment by then Congressman Eddie Boland to attend West Point. He accepted and left Amherst for West Point, and spent a happy and productive four years graduating in 1958. Upon graduation he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the infantry. He had found his life long goal – a military career. Over the next two decades Les steadily rose through the officer corps to the rank of Colonel. During a distinguished career he served two combat tours in Vietnam earning the Bronze Star and the Air Medal for Valor. Key assignments in Vietnam during the period 1965-1968 included Company Commander/Battalion intelligence officer in the legendary 101st Airborne Division and battalion commander of the 4th Division – 20th Infantry regiment which were known as “Sykes Regulars.” Les was also a graduate of Army War College and worked for several years in the Office of the Joint Chiefs at the Pentagon. He retired from active duty in 1984 after twenty-six years of dedicated service to his county.
Shortly after his retirement from the Army, Les embarked on a new career in the business world. He moved back to his home state of Massachusetts and began working in the office of defense contracting with Dynamics Research Corporation in Andover, Massachusetts. His second career lasted more than twenty years.
Les is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Lt Colonel Tom Gibbings and wife Julie, his former wife of thirty-six years, Barbara Gibbings, and brothers, Robert, Alfred, George and sisters, Louise and Arleen.
He was very ill in his final months and his family wanted particular thanks given to all those at Cape Fear Valley Hospital and Highsmith-Rainey Memorial Hospital in North Carolina who gave Les such great care.