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Honoring the Life of a True American Hero

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Frank  Buckles, the last living World War I Doughboy, died early Sunday morning at the age of 110.  Born on February 1, 1901 in Bethany, Missouri, Buckles’ life spanned one of the most turbulent, exciting, and eventful times in history.  A resident of Charles Town, West Virginia where American Public University System (APUS) is headquartered, Buckles was well-known within the local community as well as nationally. 

At the age of 17, only a year after the United States entered World War I, Buckles lied about his age and joined the US Army.  Buckles volunteered as an ambulance driver and was sent to France where he found the suffering of the French people disturbing.  In a 2001 interview for the Library of CongressVeterans History Project, Buckles said, “’The little French children were hungry….To me, that was a pretty sad sight,’” demonstrating his compassion for those living in the midst of the Great War.  During his time in France, he also escorted German prisoners of war back to their homeland after the signing of the Armistice

After the war, Buckles held various positions with shipping and steamship companies and was assigned to locations throughout the world.  During World War II, he was working as a civilian in Manila and was captured by the Japanese and held for 39 months in a prisoner of war camp.  In the mid-1950s, Buckles settled in Charles Town, West Virginia where he owned and ran a cattle farm.  Buckles remained quite active until his death.  Aside from maintaining his farm (he continued to drive his tractor until the age of 106), he advocated for a suitable memorial in Washington, DC to commemorate the sacrifices of those with whom he served in World War I.

In March 2008, Buckles visited the nation’s capital and was disturbed by the condition in which he found the World War I memorial.  The monument was dedicated in 1931 as a memorial to the 499 residents of the District of Columbia who gave their lives during World War I.  At the time of Buckles’ visit, no national memorial was in place for all World War I veterans.  Buckles made it his personal mission to change this.  After gaining the support of Senators John D. Rockefeller (D-WV), Jim Webb (D-VA), and John Thune (D-SD), Buckles testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks in December 2009 in support of Senate Bill 2097, the Frank Buckles World War I Memorial Act.  The act was passed and work began at a furious rate in hopes of completing the restoration project before Buckles’ death (Buckles was 108 when the bill was passed). 

Though the restoration continues and Buckles will not be able to see the product of his work to memorialize the efforts of World War I veterans, his efforts will not soon be forgotten by the descendents of those who served in The Great War.  Frank Buckles lived a long and remarkable life.  Even as he approached 100 years old, he continued to make public appearances in an attempt to keep the memory of those who sacrificed everything during World War I alive in the minds of a generation who may otherwise never have a firsthand account of that time.   To read about Frank Buckles’ life in his own words, visit his website.  Frank Buckles was a humble man, typical of many who risked their lives or sacrificed their lives to enhance our freedoms.  We will try to do our part to follow his initiatives to recognize the veterans of World War I. 

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Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in 2002. In September 2019, Dr. Boston retired as CEO of APEI and retired as APUS President in August 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. For four years from 2009 through 2012, APEI was ranked in Forbes' Top 10 list of America's Best Small Public Companies. During his tenure as president, APUS grew to over 85,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 100,000 alumni. While serving as APEI CEO and APUS President, Dr. Boston was a board member of APEI, APUS, Hondros College of Nursing, and Fidelis, Inc. Dr. Boston continues to serve as a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), a member of the Board of Overseers of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, and as a member of the board of New Horizons Worldwide. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. In August 2020, the Board of Trustees of APUS appointed him Trustee Emeritus. In November 2020, the Board of Trustees announced that the APUS School of Business would be renamed the Dr. Wallace E Boston School of Business in recognition of Dr. Boston's service to the university. Dr. Boston lives with his family in Austin, Texas.

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