Graham McLeod Sibbles

NO. 17686  •  22 April 1928 - 11 February 1995

Died 11 February 1995 in Coral Gables, Fl. Cremated

GRAHAM McLEOD SIBBLES, "Sib" to many of us, was born in East St. Louis. During his early years, his father's business caused the family to move frequently. After three high schools, he graduated from Little Rock High School in 1945. While enrolled in Louisiana State University, he received his appointment to USMA. Arriving in July 1946, he began his distinguished 34 years in uniform. He was blessed throughout with warm friendships and fond memories, as testified to by the numerous recollections provided for this article.

As a cadet, Sib almost managed to conceal his keen intelligence behind a genial smile and a dry wit, but he also frequently tutored his less gifted classmates. He had a unique capability of rolling with the punches, seldom allowing the TACs to get the better of him. He was on the Corps Squad wrestling team his first three years and managed the team his First Class year, earning a minor "A."  A fine squash player and an avid golfer, he also is remembered as a good overall athlete. He was popular with his classmates and always ready for a good time.

After graduation, Sib attended Parachute School at Ft. Benning. At that time, his family was living in Mobile, and he endeared himself to his classmates by taking them home with him for a "Mobile-style" shrimp dinner, complete with chicory coffee. After Ft. Benning, he joined the 505th  Airborne Infantry Regiment in the 82d Airborne Division at Ft. Bragg.

In October 1950, he married Nancy Lee Murray, whom he had met as a cadet, at her home in New Haven, CT. The next year, while Sib was attending a short course at the Infantry School at Ft. Benning, their oldest son, John, was born. Sib joined many of his classmates in Korea and fought with the 2d Division's 38th Infantry Regiment, winning a Silver Star for bravery in combat. He also earned a Combat Infantryman Badge and a Purple Heart and was medically evacuated to the U.S.

In 1953, Sib was assigned to the faculty at the Infantry School and later was a student at the Advanced Course and the Ranger School. Their second son, David, was born at Ft. Benning and their daughter Susan joined them at their next post with the 8th Division in Germany. In the '60s, Sib graduated from CGSC, then from Mississippi State University, where he earned another bachelor's degree and a master's degree in electrical engineering. After serving on the Army General Staff in Washington, DC, he returned to combat in Viet Nam, where he commanded a support battalion and an Infantry battalion in the 196th Infantry Brigade. There, he was awarded his second Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, and a second Combat Infantryman Badge.

After Viet Nam, he served in the Office of the Army Assistant Vice Chief of Staff and attended the Army War College. He earned his Army aviator’s wings in 1971, when he graduated from Helicopter School. He loved flying every bit as much as he enjoyed his numerous command assignments along the way. That same year, the Sibbles proceeded to Germany, where he commanded the 8th Division's Support Command. He later served on the staff of Allied Forces, Central Europe.

During 1974-78, Graham was the DCSLOG at USMA, bringing his usual enthusiasm to supporting the Corps of Cadets in a period of rapid change and rising costs. Two areas that demanded a great deal of his attention were manufacture of cadet uniforms and operation of the Cadet Mess Hall. Admission of female cadets in 1976 required a myriad of preparations, all subject to the closest scrutiny by the media and the public. Through it all, Sib maintained his sense of humor and perspective in accomplishing the mission.

Again in Washington, Sib supervised development of advanced electronic ideas at the Army's Readiness Command (HQ DARCOM). He retired in 1980 and was awarded his second Legion of Merit. Sib and Nan remained in their home in northern Virginia, and Sib continued to use his extensive knowledge of Army tactics and weaponry at Strategy Corporation in Alexandria. He analyzed futuristic possibilities for ground force command and control, thereby contributing key elements to a lengthy policy study for the Defense Department. He developed the entire military rationale for a company’s multi-volume proposal to replace the Army's Colt 45.

Direct and often innovative, in one instance he almost blew it. Taking the prototype 9mm pistol to a nearby gold dealer to learn its precise weight, he walked in casually with a plain paper bag and pulled out the pistol to explain his purpose. The merchant blanched and reached for the panic button!

Later, Sib earned a Virginia Realtor License and - with his cordial personality and persistence - competed successfully in this notoriously tough sales field, despite a broad real estate slump in the '90s. His penchant for neatness, attention to detail, and his methodical approach to problem solving endeared him to clients and fellow agents, whom he unselfishly assisted.

In 1994, Nan and Sib relocated to the Indian River Retirement Community in Melbourne, FL. As his health began to fail, he demonstrated fortitude and courage in his struggle with cancer. At his death, friends and family gathered at their Melboume home to remember him. At the same time, a "wake" was held by friends in northern Virginia.

He is remembered by his family as a very patient, understanding, loving and supportive father. He was devoted to Nan and the children and loved being a part of their lives - as they loved being a part of his life.

In the words of a former roommate, "Sib will be missed by all who came in contact with him. This red-headed southern gentleman had the ability to accomplish anything he wanted to do, and his career certainly bears that out." Husband, father, soldier, scholar, comrade - that was Graham Sibbles.

- His family and classmates.