The Fraternity is saddened by the passing of SigEp Citation recipient Billy Boles, North Carolina State ’61.
During college, Boles served as North Carolina Beta’s house manager. He also took advanced ROTC courses and dreamed of becoming a pilot after graduation. Although a physical that revealed an astigmatism derailed part of his dream, Boles fulfilled his aspiration to join the U.S. Air Force in 1962.
Over more than three decades, he built a career as a highly ranked and highly decorated officer. Along the way, he earned numerous awards and decorations, including the Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster and the Bronze Star Medal, but remained humble and never forgot his small town roots.
His first duties involved record keeping. But his ability to connect with others soon became apparent, and he was quickly reassigned to serve as an instructor in the Air Force’s training school.
Rising steadily through the ranks, in 1995, he was promoted to general and named commander of the Air Education and Training Command. In this role, Boles served as the senior personnel officer for the entire Air Force and oversaw the 70,000-person team responsible for recruiting, educating and training the branch’s workforce.
In keeping with his nature of caring about the well-being of others, Boles went on to work in the healthcare industry for several years after his retirement from the military. In 2019, SigEp presented Boles with the Citation in recognition of his professional achievements.
Two brothers who greatly admired Boles recalled his influence on them.
Charlie Amato, Sam Houston State ’70, said, “Billy was commander of Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio, but was also much more. He worked with the Greater San Antonio Chamber on events supporting our local military branches, not just the Air Force. Billy was the first non-rated general to lead a flying command, which had more airplanes than any other command. Bottom line: Billy Boles was a very nice, intelligent, successful man, and I was blessed to call him my friend.”
Grand President Billy Maddalon, North Carolina State ’90, said, “Billy Joe Boles was a certified badass! He left the little town of King, North Carolina, and went off to N.C. State to, as he put it, ‘learn a little something.’ Boy, did he learn. After graduation, he went on to lead some of the most important and transformative operations in the U.S. Air Force. He was rewarded and promoted time and again … all the while insisting he was ‘just a country boy from King.’
“I had the privilege of sitting with Billy Joe at meals at the Houston Conclave, where he was to receive his Citation. I asked him about the secret to his success. His response: ‘This is the secret,’ as he gestured at the 2,000 guests around the room. ‘Everything I’ve achieved was because people trusted me,’ he said. ‘They trusted me because they had a relationship with me.’ He went on to explain that none of his achievements occurred without relationships. And he said SigEp was the first time in his life he developed relationships with anyone other than his family.
“Obviously, that made all the difference … What a testimony!”
Billy Boles was a humble, hard-working, honorable brother who brought great distinction to SigEp and all his endeavors. We will forever treasure his memory.