Ambassador William E. Colby - Director CIA - Colby Military Writers Symposium - Norwich University - O.S.S.

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William E. Colby
William E. Colby
1920 - 1996

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Ambassador William Colby

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Controversial Director of the CIA from 1973 to 1976. Colby, a former O.S.S. agent, took control of the agency during a difficult time: criticism of the CIA had led to a congressional investigation, and Colby was forced to reveal many of the agency's secrets. He testified before Congress in 1975 in the wake of various leaks that that the CIA had been engaged in coups and attempted assassinations abroad, spying on U.S. citizens, and conducting controversial drug and mind-control experiments. His candor before Congress angered many CIA veterans, but others credit him with restoring the agency's credibility in the post-Watergate era. 

His revelations may have contributed to his forced resignation in 1976. In 1996, he apparently drowned while canoeing on a Maryland river. 
William E. Colby Military Writers' Symposium

Ambassador Colby spoke at Norwich University many times leading up to the year he died.  Norwich University assisted in the establishment of the William E. Colby annual Military Writers Symposium.

Ambassador William E. Colby Biography

The son of a career Army officer, Bill Colby was born in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Mr. Colby had a long and distinguished career of public service.  He received an A.B. degree cum laude from Princeton University in 1940, where he was elected Phi Beta Kappa, and an L.L.B. in 1947 from Columbia University Law School.

A highly decorated veteran of World War II, Colby parachuted into France and Norway to work with the French and Norwegian resistance forces for the Office of Strategic Services.  His wartime service earned him the Silver and Bronze Stars, the French Croix de Guerre, Norway’s St. Olaf’s Medal and a Mention in Dispatches in Britain.

After the war, Colby began a distinguished post-war career with the OSS’s successor organization, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  From 1951-1962, Colby served with the American Embassies in Stockholm, Rome, and Saigon.  He was Ambassador and Deputy to the Commander of the U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam from 1968 to 1971.

After holding various other high-level positions in the Central Intelligence Agency, he became its Director from 1973 to 1976.  After leaving the CIA, Mr. Colby was a consultant and lecturer on international and domestic political matters to various corporations and governments and practiced International and American Law in Washington, D.C.  His many years of outstanding public service have been recognized by the awarding of the National Service Medal, the Distinguished Intelligence Medal, and the State Department’s Distinguished Honor Award.

Ambassador Colby authored two important books: Lost Victory:  A Firsthand Account of America’s Involvement in Vietnam and Honorable Men-My Life in the CIA.  He was a long-time friend of Norwich University, which awarded him an Honorary Doctorate in Public Service in 1992.

In honor of his commitment to Norwich University and the Symposium, the program was named The William E. Colby Military Writers’ Symposium in 1997.


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Ambassador William Colby:  Scholar, Intellectual, Ambassador, Life-long Civil Servant:

Former director of the Central Intelligence Agency - CIA

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