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Return to Vietnam
Retired Oxford veteran travels to Vietnam more than 40 years after fighting
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Hubert L. Townley began his military career in March 1955 and retired from the U.S. Army more than 20 years later in November 1979. In January 2013, Townley will travel to Vietnam on a Veterans of Foreign Wars sponsored tour, "Return to Vietnam," which will last for two weeks during Jan. 3 through 17.

To qualify for the trip, a veteran must have served in Vietnam and received the Purple Heart.

Townley served two tours in Vietnam. During the first tour, he served as an Infantry Platoon Leader, Company Executive Officer and Battalion Motor Officer. During his second tour, Townley served a majority of his time serving as a support Company Commander, Battalion Supply Officer and Battalion Motor Officer all concurrently in a Mechanized Infantry Battalion. Toward the end of his second tour, he also served as a Brigade Headquarters Company Commander.

Townley is "anxious to see how well the Vietnamese people are doing and what the country looks like today."

If any Vietnam veteran would like to request that Townley attempt to take photos of specific locations, they may contact him at (770) 855-0485 or by email at

CovCrypt: For Oxford man, U.S. Army service didn't end with time in uniform

By Tamela S. Mills, in 1998

With 20 years enlisted in the U.S. Army, most would walk away knowing they had served their country well. But for Hubert L. Townley Sr., service has been the key to a long and successful career spanning 43 years. And he has the awards and commendations to prove it. One such honor was the National Guard's Heritage Award which is the second highest honor in the force.

In a recent ceremony, Townley was awarded the Commander's Award for Civilian Service by the Department of the Army for his "exceptional service to Forces Command since February 1984... While serving in the home station training branch's training division, Townley displayed integrity, professionalism, loyalty and the willingness to help other develop professionally. He is a consummate leader. His career is an inspiration for those who follow," according to his certificate accompanying the Commander's Award.

Long before volunteerism was a presidential plan and a modern movement, Townley was volunteering his services in the U.S. Army (career and civilian service), Georgia National Guard, as a volunteer firefighter in north Newton County, as a candidate for state representative and state senate, and as a scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts of America.

His career began in 1954 when Townley was a lean, 17-year-old boy and a soon-to-be senior at Newton County High School. He entered the Georgia Army National Guard, then quit high school to join the U.S. Army at Fort Jackson, S.C. "I feel like every healthy man has an obligation to serve his country. I feel strongly about that," said Townley.

In return, the Army has an education for those who serve. Time and again this education caused havoc in his life, but he was relentless in pursuing his education. He returned three years later to finish his degree, but because of restrictions on the GI Bill, he was withheld from graduating.

He finally persuaded principal Homer Sharp to let him complete school. About the time integration became a political flashpoint of the 1960s, he was somehow ineligible for college because his education was not continuous.

He returned to the Army, but again tried to enter college soon after. Just as he was getting ready to start classes, he was told he had been admitted into a military academy. "It irritated me, but I went on to the academy and went to college," laughed Townley.

He, then a sergeant, finally graduated from the academy fifth in his class and held a B average at Georgia State University at the same time. The same day he graduated from the academy, Townley returned home to marry his high school sweetheart Carol. She said that's the only was he was ever able to remember their anniversary, according to Townley. Since then, he has earned a master's degree and the Townleys have raised four children on their north Oxford farm.

The military also taught Townley appreciation. He recalled witnessing life in third-world countries like Vietnam and developing a deeper appreciation for democracy and freedom.

Townley received seven performance awards and one heritage award through the National Guard between April 1988 and November 1996.

His commitment to service and his standards for job performance are well illustrated throughout his career. For instance, in 1968, he performed three jobs concurrently while in the Republic of Vietnam because here was no one else to fill the roles.

"In the military, so often, life and death depends on job performance. And if you don't perform, other's blood may be on your hands," he said. "People in the military understand how important job performance is."

People always have told Townley his perfectionism and work ethic were due to his military experience. He disagrees. He excelled in the Army because these traits were natural to him. While serving in the civilian world, he found himself disillusioned and distressed by people who seemed to not care about their jobs. "‘The best we can be' is not good enough. We're going to fail enough when we try hard," said Townley.

Townley left the Army in November 1979 as a major in Forces Command assigned to operations and training as an operations specialist. At Atlanta headquarters, he was a watch officer for the Army and reported any incidents that arose to superiors, sometimes the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was on duty the night a hurricane hit Puerto Rico and Costa Rica, and when the U.S. invaded Panama.

Later returning as a civilian, he resumed his same job when the position was "civilianized." After six years, he left that role for another seven years as a training devices and simulations specialist.

He has served 20 years as an enlisted man and 13 years in civilian positions following his second formal retirement.

Now, after so many years of service, Townley doesn't care much for being told he should volunteer to the community. That's what he's been doing for decades.

Townley has no immediate plans to get involved in government or voluntary service. But did not hesitate in saying it would need to be a busy one to satisfy him. He hopes to spend some time on his 69-acre farm in Oxford.