Dedication to education: Eaker honors Gen. Boles

by Rebecca Burylo
Air University Public Affairs

6/27/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -  -- The Ira C. Eaker Center for Professional Development recognized Gen. Billy Boles' achievements and dedication to the education and development of Air Force personnel professionals with the Billy J. Boles Auditorium, named in his honor June 19.

"I could not believe they were doing this," said Boles. "There's no way I'd turn it down, because it is such an honor. The Eaker Center is such a very, very important part of the United States Air Force, the Air University and the educational program."

The only career personnel officer to earn the rank of four-star general in the Air Force personnel field, Boles retired in April 1997 as the commander of Air Education and Training Command, headquartered at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.

As commander of AETC, Boles was responsible for Air University and all Air Force personnel recruitment, accessions, education and training of 43,000 active-duty members and 14,000 civilians at 14 military bases.

"General Boles provides valuable corporate knowledge, lessons learned and professional continuing education to hundreds of United States Air Force Personnel Professional Development School graduates," Col. John McCain, commander of the Eaker Center, read in part from the auditorium plaque donated by the Air University Foundation.

Though now 16 years retired, Boles continues to give back to younger Airmen as an instructor, guest lecturer and adjunct instructor for Maxwell's USAF Personnel Professional Development School and is the definition of mentorship, according to keynote speaker, Lt. Gen. Darrell Jones, deputy chief of staff for Air Force Manpower, Personnel and Services.

"General Boles' career has been long and illustrious, and I'm not only talking about in uniform, but also out of uniform," Jones said. "He has mentored for many years every force support squadron commander class ... He mentors them, he coaches them and helps them through some of the questions they have."

Boles says he will eventually stop teaching, but he enjoys the students too much to do so. Their eagerness continually provides him with new perspectives upon returns home to his wife in Texas.

"I think about the young men and women who are in the force support squadron commanders' course right now. They're younger than my son," Boles said. "It is a young, young force and they want to learn, they're eager to learn, and I enjoy that."

Since arriving at Maxwell, June 16, Boles taught enterprise perspective to those enrolled at the Eaker Center and participated in the two-week force support squadron leadership course designed for newly appointed FSS commanders and deputies.

Boles said in-residence and online courses make the Eaker Center a crucial part of the military education at Maxwell and the Air University in developing good leadership qualities for wing, group and squadron commanders and their spouses.

Drawing from his own experiences with working with and for leaders, Boles imparts on his classes "the good, the bad and the ugly," so they may learn from others' successes as well as mistakes.

Lieutenant Gen. David Fadok, commander and president of the Air University, commended Boles on his unending support of Maxwell and missions.

"There is no one more deserving for this recognition than our honoree," said Fadok. "General Boles has been a remarkable and ardent supporter of the Air University, of the Eaker Center and certainly of the United States Air Force Personnel Professional Development School. He has a passion for his profession that is admirable and understandable."

Boles began his Air Force career as an instructor in the basic personnel officer course, using his education degree from North Carolina State University after being commissioned through Air Force ROTC in March 1962. Astigmatism prevented Boles from becoming a fighter pilot and steered him on the path of personnel assignments.
Serving on staffs of the 7th Air Force in Vietnam, the Air Force Military Personnel Center, Tactical Air Command and Air Staff and finally as the commander of AETC, Boles earned the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, the Bronze Star Medal and several other decorations.