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Posted on Mar 7, 2013 in War College

Norwich Announces Vt. Writer Winner of 2013 William E. Colby Award

By Media Release

NORTHFIELD, Vt. – Norwich University officials announced that Thomas P. McKenna, of Stowe, Vt., is the 2013 William E. Colby Award winner for his book “Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam” (The University Press of Kentucky, 2011).

LTC McKenna, USA (Ret) served as a military adviser to the South Vietnamese Army of the Republic of Vietnam and has published articles on military history in “Vietnam,” “Military Officer,” and “Military Heritage” magazines.

During his 22 years of service, McKenna served a total of 12 ½ years overseas in Germany, Italy, Korea, and Vietnam. His book “Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam” is a non-fiction military history based on his second tour in Vietnam.


Assigned as a military adviser to the 23rd Division, McKenna participated in the battle of Kontum and in his book combines his personal experiences with years of interviews and research from primary sources to describe the events leading up to the invasion and the battle itself.

“Thomas P. McKenna was one of a handful of American advisors in Kontum in 1972. His first-hand knowledge, personal valor, and superb research has resulted in a landmark account of one the most desperate and little known battles of the Vietnam War,” said Carlo D’Este, executive director, The William E. Colby Military Writers’ Symposium. “Described by a former commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division as ‘a soldier’s soldier,’ Thomas McKenna joins an eminent group of authors as the newest winner of the Colby Award.”

Named for the late Ambassador and former CIA Director William E. Colby, the Colby Award recognizes a first work of fiction or non-fiction that has made a significant contribution to the public’s understanding of intelligence operations, military history or international affairs.

“I am especially honored to be selected for the Colby Award because I know the judges were people who read and know military history,” McKenna said.

A $5,000 author honorarium is provided through a grant from Chicago-based Tawani Foundation. The award and honorarium will be presented at Norwich University by Carlo D’Este during the 2013 Colby Military Writers’ Symposium at the Meet the Authors Dinner on April 11, 2013.

The William E. Colby Award was originated at Norwich University in 1999.

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 decorated World War II veteran who served with the OSS in World War II and later with the 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. Colby served as Director of the CIA from 1973-76. In honor of his commitment to Norwich University and the symposium, the program was named The William E. Colby Military Writers’ Symposium in 1997. The 2013 Symposium will take place April 10-11.

Previous recipients of the Colby Award include James Bradley, Nathanial Fick, Colonel Jack Jacobs (Ret.), Dexter Filkins, Marcus Lutrell, John Glusman and Karl Marlantes.

Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in Baccalaureate and Graduate Degrees.

Norwich University was founded in 1819 by Captain Alden Partridge of the U.S. Army. Norwich University is the oldest private military college in the United States of America and the birthplace of our nation’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).

ABOUT Tawani Foundation:

Founded by COL (IL) J. N. Pritzker, IL ARNG (Retired), Tawani Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) grant-making organization whose mission is: to enhance the awareness and understanding of the importance of the Citizen Soldier; to preserve unique sites of significance to American and military history; to foster health and wellness projects for improved quality of life; and to honor the service of military personnel, past, present and future, through an awards program that includes the JROTC/ROTC Award for Military Excellence, the William E. Colby Award and the Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing.