"The Assembly" by Bill McWilliams
Nominated by the following West
West Point Society of Annapolis
To: The Association of Graduates, USMA
West Point, New York 10996
Subject: Nomination of David R. Hughes as Distinguished Graduate, USMA
The West Point Society of Annapolis is pleased to nominate David Ralph Hughes, Cullum 17958, of the Class of 1950 for the United States Military Academy's Distinguished Graduate Award for 2001.
Those who have been selected as Distinguished Graduates of the USMA make up a noble roster, all of them celebrated for sterling character, illustrious achievements, and a lifelong interest in West Point. With this nomination of David Hughes, we bring to the consideration of the Nominating Committee a record of service to the Academy, the Army, and the nation after his retirement from active duty that is unique, even unparalleled, and that sets him apart like the other West Pointers of distinction who in the past have gained this treasured award.
David Hughes is an American original, truly a modern renaissance man. He was a superlative fighting soldier in two wars. He has been an admired military educator in the classroom and on the troop line, and in retirement has been a prominent civic leader in his community. On active duty he has been a visionary problem solver at the troop echelons and a political-military strategist at the highest levels. Since his retirement he has become an innovative pioneering information technologist, a communicator of ideas, an influential voice and mover and shaker in the tumultuous, expanding world of the Internet and wireless. In May/June 1993, Wired magazine called him the most known personality online in the country, citing his West Point origins. Later, in November 1998, the magazine named Hughes one of the 25 most innovative 'Wired' leaders in the world.
Throughout his life he has been a tireless, crusading, dynamic and powerful expositor and defender of the traditional soldierly virtues. And he has been a lifelong exemplar and supporter of West Point and its ideals.
David Hughes's accomplishments have been in venues from combat on the bleak hills of Korea, to the halls of government, to the world of wireless in Mongolia, Alaska, and Puerto Rico, to innumerable editorial pages for which he has written, to the endless vistas now provided by the Internet where the volume of his communications is staggering. He is a son of West Point, whose lifetime contribution is unlike that of any other, and is eminently worthy of this recognition.
Generations from now, when our great grandchildren are looking back at our selections, to see what ripples in the fabric of time they wrought, the selection of Dave Hughes will stand out. Few are gifted with the vision to gain credentials as a futurist, even fewer have had the skills to focus, assemble, and implement an effective program to guide society into that future.
Dave Hughes has done and continues to do those things as no other West Pointer and few Americans have. And while his achievements are internationally recognized and admired, they are scarcely known among the Long Gray Line. It is time to amend this situation and to raise David Hughes as an example for our cadets and junior graduates and for the world.
Combat Soldier. Sent to battle in Korea without benefit of Infantry Officer Basic Course, Ranger, or Airborne training, Lieutenant Hughes successfully fought and commanded a rifle platoon and company in the 7th Cavalry from November 1950 to December 1951, earning the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star with OLC, Bronze Star w/V, Purple Heart, and Combat Infantry Badge during periods of intense combat in which he lost all his officers and 85% of his men while still accomplishing his missions. His performance as the quintessential Korean War Class of 1950 graduate was featured in "Once More into the Fire" in Assembly magazine Jan-Mar 1998. In 1967-1968, Lt. Col. Hughes successfully commanded a battalion of the 25th Division in Vietnam, earning a third Silver Star and 14 Air Medals. During the last half of his tour he was selected by Lt. Gen. Weyand, Commander II Field Force, to analyze the Tet Offensive and to deal with the press and brief senior military commanders and staff about the misconceptions of Tet's actual military effect, earning the Legion of Merit for this work.
Trainer and Educator. After Korea, Hughes served tours as a popular instructor of Tactics at Fort Benning's Infantry School and then in 1955-58 in the English Department, USMA. At West Point, as a highly decorated officer who was also a masterful teacher of literature, he was to a generation of cadets an inspirational role model, a soldier-scholar who was as enthusiastic about Moby Dick as about how to take out a Chinese machine gun position. When asked about combat leadership he could speak with authority from his own thoughtfully evaluated experience. At the same time, understanding and teaching Shakespeare and the other classics, he could hold cadets' rapt attention in a discourse on liberal education where a man's values are the subject.
Political-Military Strategist. In 1964-66 Hughes was selected to advise the Chief of Staff, US Army, and later the Secretary of Defense, on politico-military policies. With his classmate Paul Gorman, later General and CinC US Southern Command, he wrote a series of prescient studies that redefined the nature of future wars and their relationships to the American character and values. He drafted key portions of President Lyndon B. Johnson's 1966 State of the Union address and Secretary of Defense McNamara's landmark speech before the American Newspaper Editors May 18, 1966, which was acclaimed world wide for its vision beyond Vietnam of America's place in a violent world and the changing role of America's military, which vision is being played out today.
Fort Carson Innovator. From late 1968 through 1972 Hughes was at Fort Carson, Colorado. Because of his superb combat record, he was brought there by the commander of the 5th Infantry Division (Mech), Major General Roland M. Glezser, '40, to be division G3. In 1969 the newly arrived Major General Bernard W. Rogers, Jun '43, made Hughes, then only a lieutenant colonel (promotable), post and division Chief of Staff and a key member of his top leadership team, which also included Brigadier General DeWitt C. Smith, Jr., Assistant Division Commander. It was a time of great social stress and change -- public opposition to the Vietnam War, antiwar and antimilitary sentiment, dissent among nearby activist civilians including ex-soldiers, racial disharmony leading to organized disobedience by soldiers in ranks, and growing drug problems.
To this scene General Rogers brought innovative and enlightened leadership. By putting the highest priority on taking care of the soldier in every respect and by viewing the post and its surroundings as an integrated community, Rogers undertook to turn the deteriorating situation around, with Colonel Hughes an enthusiastic and creative agent.
Among the measures instituted by General Rogers that Hughes showed skill and energy in implementing were the creation of elected Enlisted Councils and Racial Harmony Councils, constructing an on-post drive-in short-order restaurant, opening enlisted men's clubs (with go-go girls) in each major area with funds provided by the downtown community, operation of on-post coffee houses to compete with those downtown operated by the American Servicemen's Union which was antimilitary -- and permitting soldiers to put on bold Black Guerilla Theater, where intense, honest dialogue took place between some of the most junior military members of the post, and the most senior, on problems of race, drugs, harassment, civil-military relations, and political dissent. Hughes himself organized the "Wives Council" which permitted the activist wives of young soldiers to air their views in discussions with the most senior officers. With General Rogers, Hughes understood that if the Army were to retain a good soldier in the modern age, his wife or even girlfriend had to accept the Army; in due time even the most disruptive and negative of these helped to make the larger community function well.
Measures like these paid off when a group of off-post Black Panthers, their vehicles loaded with guns, attempted to start a bloodbath on post at 2:00 am, by baiting the junior-officer led MPs into firing at a mob of black soldiers who had been drinking and who had refused to clear the street. The trust which honest dialogue had built up over the preceding months led one black soldier who was seen as an activist leader (he was a convicted felon whom the judge sentenced to serve in the Army and who had become a member of the Fort Carson Equal Opportunity Office) to call Chief of Staff Hughes at home to tip him off to the impending trouble. Hughes was able to alert commanders and to issue instructions on his own so that the incident ended with the Panthers leaving post and no one hurt. The next day, when the Panthers attempted the same thing in Colorado Springs, Hughes was able to operate a black-soldier command post, informing the Chief of Police about what was going on and thereby avoiding serious incidents.
These unprecedented, and risky, innovations successfully communicated to the large soldier population that the Army was willing to treat its soldiers as full adults and to trust them not to take advantage of such privileges. Disciplinary problems, rather than increase as many traditional-method officers predicted, decreased, post wide. And Fort Carson, now on the military map, became a desirable assignment for outstanding officers. The effects of this era, when Col Hughes vigorously carried out the bold policies of General Rogers whose vision he shared, are still being felt.
Meanwhile the 5th Infantry Division had become the 4th Infantry Division (Mech), and Fort Carson had been designated a permanent installation of the post-Vietnam Army. National and international media took a keen interest in the "New Army" emerging there. Observers came from all over the world, including from defense ministries in nations facing some of the same problems. Hughes was flown to Europe to lecture at several division headquarters on the successful programs of Fort Carson that were rooted deeply in an understanding of the American character, and how mechanisms to reach consensus by democratic means could be adapted to the Army, while not compromising the chain of command.
When General Rogers departed, Colonel Hughes served his successor, Major General John C. Bennett, '45, with equal distinction as Chief of Staff and then as brigade commander. In the latter capacity, Hughes adapted to the mechanized infantry the tradition of the Dragoons, men who rode to battle but fought on foot. He instituted a series of qualifying courses by which soldiers and officers, in buttoned up M113 armored personnel carriers, showed their mastery of mechanized infantry skills to win their "gauntlets." The gauntlet was in the form of a black issue soldier's glove, with an added flared leather gauntlet on which was steel-stamped the name of the wearer. This brought recognition and esprit like that of the airborne badge or ranger tab.
Before he retired, Hughes was asked by Colorado Springs community leaders how to apply in their city some of the measures that had been successful at Fort Carson. In one instance, he took his Brigade Wives Council meeting to downtown USO buildings and, involving civic figures such as the head of the Board of Realtors, put local leaders in touch with more than three hundred young women from Fort Carson. The USO, embracing the whole military family, got a new lease on life. The leadership and social pioneering which was started at Fort Carson thus began to benefit the surrounding city, which was facing similar social, political, and cultural problems.
Upon Retirement, 1973. Hundreds, even thousands, of West Pointers over the years have distinguished themselves on active duty in like manner to David Hughes. What clearly sets him apart and more than justifies his selection as a Distinguished Graduate is what he has done in the almost thirty years since he retired in 1973. To be appreciated fully, this story must be told in some detail.
Always a visionary, part of Hughes' post-retirement thought was formed while serving as Fort Carson's Chief of Staff, as he had studied and applied to the struggle of transitioning from a Draft to a Volunteer Army in a changing society the futuristic works of Alvin Toffler's Future Shock, Marshal McLuhan's The Medium is the Message and John Naisbitt's Megatrends. Knowing as early as 1973 that a large part of the future of America would be based on emerging "Information Age" economics and activities, Hughes went into business for himself in Colorado Springs. He decided to make the future actually happen. His start-up business, named Old Colorado City Communications, was based on a hitherto unheard of model, namely "retailing" information about Colorado. That inspired him to undertake two major civic volunteer initiatives.
Colorado Bicentennial, (1973-76). First, he volunteered, after three sets of prominent Colorado Springs citizens had failed and resigned, to head up a suitable commemoration of America's Bicentennial and Colorado's Centennial (both of which fell in 1976) and to organize the celebratory events. An economic downturn in the early 1970s had dispirited the city, and many potential leaders and donors and public officials were saying that Colorado Springs "could not afford" a meaningful celebration.
Hughes told the Mayor that "Colorado Springs cannot not afford to celebrate." He said that "the only thing the new and the old, the powerful and the weak, have in common is their Heritage as Americans," and "I will organize it."
Banishing discouragement, Hughes took over and despite his late start produced a huge, successful, people-participatory series of events and commemorations over the next two years. It came to over 250 separate happenings involving over 10,000 volunteers and hundreds of thousands of participants. The effort privately raised over $350,000. It turned the city's spirits around. When the official Denver committee rejected hosting the Freedom Train which would have made Colorado the only State it did not visit, Hughes took it. It was so spectacular a success that Governor Richard Lamm came to Colorado Springs to see it and to thank Hughes.
When retired Air Force general officers could not get any local entity to guarantee the $50,000 required to bring the Confederate Air Force show to Colorado Springs, Hughes took on the responsibility. He broadened its scope to be all about America's "Air Heritage" and helped put on a show for 100,000 people, the largest in the city's history. He gave the Air Force and Army a showcase for their contributions. Antique-to-modern Army Aviation flew by in review, and the Academy brought the entering plebes of 1976, including the first women cadets, to see the magnificent birds of World War II and meet their pilots, such as complete B-17 crews. And when one of the most respected world class mountain climbing organizations, the Colorado Mountain Club from Boulder, told the state it would be too hard and risky for them to organize simultaneous climbs of all 55 Mountain Peaks over 14,000 feet in Colorado, Hughes took on the challenge, and organized the Great Centennial Fourteener Climb with 100 climbing parties with 650-plus climbers on Colorado's 100th Birthday, August 1st, 1976. Hughes led his own teenage sons up a 14,000 footer that day himself, demonstrating more fitness at 48 years in getting to the top than most of the younger climbers who had joined in.
Hughes, applauded and thanked for his two year volunteer effort, did all this without major institutional or government financial backing or personal wealth. He simply knew how to tap the patriotism and volunteerism of Americans, even while the country was still divided over the Vietnam War.
Revitalization of Old Colorado City, (1976-81). During that 1976 period, Hughes started his second significant civic contribution which has been long lasting and for which he recently has been formally honored by the City of Colorado Springs.
The city was preparing to tear down the old historic commercial buildings of the blue collar west side of Colorado Springs, under a program of urban renewal. An earlier similar effort had all but failed in downtown Colorado Springs because the city's historical character had been essentially destroyed, which in turn had lost the city business, and that had led to public controversy.
Hughes, using the insights he had gained in the Army on the social-economic-technological-cultural changes and trends that were on the horizon, undertook on his own and as a volunteer to offer the city a wholly original economic revitalization strategy. It consisted of attracting and capitalizing a large number of small businesses, recreating an Historic District, empowering many people to go into business for themselves, crafting public-private partnerships, and keeping track of everything on one of the first microcomputers sold in the nation. Installing in 1977 one of the world's first primitive modems and the first national dial-up service, he extended the reach of his embryonic effort around the world to learn from others how to do what he was attempting.
The perceptive Hughes foresaw the coming explosion of small business and American entrepreneurship. He created a support system for small and even one-person businesses, aiming to revitalize an economically dead area of the city which had been written off by many and redlined by banks.
From 1976 through 1984 Hughes led this effort. It expanded and gained momentum and has grown into one of the most successful urban revitalizations in the nation. In 1978, the Colorado State Legislature passed tax legislation to facilitate similar efforts in other cities. The Small Business Administration cited Hughes' SBA 502 program as one of the best in the nation. In 1979, he was voted one of the 100 most influential city leaders of Colorado Springs. In the early 1980s the Hughes-devised economic and cultural principles were cited by the then Governor of Colorado as a showcase for "Main Street" revivals across the state. And the then Mayor of Colorado Springs, Bob Isaac '51, used the effort's success to help win the distinction of the All American City Award. Believing that it was his civic duty to apply his talents to his local community, Hughes did not profit personally from the endeavor.
En route to this success, Hughes also became the most prominent historian of the original Colorado City, and brought to public attention the role of the first Territorial Governor of Colorado, a man who had attended West Point, in saving Colorado for the Union in 1862. By 1984 Hughes had achieved his goal of making Old Colorado City self-sufficient, no longer requiring his personal leadership, so he went back full time to his own business, Old Colorado City Communications.
Electronic Community Networking (1979-onward). Soon after he logged onto the nation's first commercial dial-up network (called "The Source") in 1979, Hughes realized that there could be great local community benefit if people within local calling distance of a free community computer network could dial in with their rudimentary computers and modems and discuss local issues, including his Old Colorado City revitalization proect, on their computer screens. So he set up Colorado Springs' first one-phone-line computer Bulletin Board. He called his pro-bono operation the "Old Colorado City Electronic Cottage" and invited all to dial in and discuss local issues.
Since this was like local people talking to each other over coffee at a restaurant or in other gathering places, it became what today would be called a virtual community. Rich and poor, young and old, educated and not so educated, people from the local region dialed and discussed things with their neighbors. "Old Town Bank" was where business was discussed. In "Little Red Electronic Schoolhouse" teachers met with students. "Garden of Ions" was about culture and the arts. But what became world famous was "Roger's Bar," where politics were discussed just as if people were in a local watering hole. This in the early 1980s was the genesis of grass roots "electronic democracy" long before the term gained notoriety. Some 150 other localities had followed Dave Hughes' lead by the time the Internet arrived 9 years later.
Hughes' use of national and international telecommunications to assist in his revitalization project gained so much global media fame that scores of national and international media came to "Old Colorado City" to see this -- as Stern magazine of Germany called it in 1984 -- "City of the Future." But what made this novel, and quite unlike the celebrated Silicon Valley ventures or fast growing technological companies, was that Dave Hughes applied the technologies to benefit ordinary people at the grass roots level and in the "community and not special interest" -- with particular attention to remote rural communities, and their struggling educational effort. As early as 1980, Hughes had created a model for Virtual Community Networking.
Hughes' operation was visited by, among others, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Wired magazine, Nova television, Japan's Yomura Shimbun newspaper, the Deutsche Welle German television network, and was seen and heard all over Asia via NHK Television and Radio. His work was analyzed in books and magazine articles and on television, including on the McNeil-Lehrer News Hour. While today the use of list servers like West Pointers' WP-ORG and chat rooms has mushroomed, Hughes' idea of a highly localized, local community, computer discussion system, mirroring local community values but in cyberspace, was then the first in the nation.
Pioneering On-Line Libraries and Education (1980-onward). In 1980, Hughes persuaded the Pike Peak Library District to be the first public library in the world to give its patrons dial-up, 24-hour-a-day access. One thing led to another from that initiative, and that library became famous, was visited by nation-wide librarians, and its Director was chosen for the prestigious Directorship of the San Francisco Public Library System. Eighteen years later, Hughes made the century-old Old Colorado City Branch Library the first in the world to be wirelessly connected to the Internet, giving access to world-wide nets to lower-income people who owned no computers. This extended his vision of a total learning/teaching society using affordable public telecom as their virtual classroom.
Scholars credit Hughes with teaching one of the first formal on-line college-degree courses in the world, in 1982. Later he mentored Dr. George L. Johnston, theoretical physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as Johnston taught the Mathematics and Physics of Chaos to bright high school students in remote places and small towns over the net, another first in the nation. Johnston and Hughes have collaborated since.
At the 4th National Space Symposium, May 1988, Hughes inaugurated Space Net, which then operated for many years to hook up school children via computer communications to Space education through the United States Space Foundation headquartered in Colorado Springs.
Between 1989 and 1993 Hughes designed the nation's first, successful rural educational network, Big Sky Telegraph, which linked 114 one room rural Montana schools to the rest of the world at extremely low cost. His methods were studied, and adopted, including in foreign countries where communications costs are very high and access to the net is low.
In 1993 Hughes was awarded the Pioneer Award by the Electronic Frontier Foundation -- sharing the honors with the technical father of the Internet, Vint Cerf, and the father of seminal packet switching (of great military importance), Paul Baran. Many current celebrated Information Age luminaries credit Hughes with being their early inspiration to see into the technological revolution, not just e-commerce and technological elitism, but balanced societal improvements aided by grass roots technological innovation.
At Philadelphia's Annenberg School for Communications and at Nova University, Florida, doctoral theses have been written on Hughes' theories of the new era of globally connected communities and cultures. For a decade and a half, he has been asked to lecture about local electronic communities. He has been repeatedly honored for his pioneering effort to adapt personal computing technology to local community life. He remains in global demand as a speaker, and is always introduced as a West Point Graduate.
Exploiting Advanced Wireless Communications (1994-onward). Beginning in 1994, Hughes grasped both the need and the opportunity to use highly technically advanced wireless communications, known as pread-spectrum radio, to reach "all the people." For the past forty years only the Military Services had used these forms of digital wireless communications.
That year the National Science Foundation -- learning of his unique synthesis of interest in connectivity for rural, remote areas, his passion for giving all schoolchildren access to the benefits of the Information Age, and his own use of then-costly data radios -- asked Hughes to accept a $350,000 grant to pioneer such uses for education. (Normally the NSF awaits grant requests, usually from universities; in Hughes' case, the NSF has taken the initiative with Hughes five times, asking his small company to accept grant awards in areas they believe are on the leading edge of technology.) Hughes then put spread-specturm radio technology to use.
After that first grant, the NSF asked him to help the Mongolian government get Internet connected wirelessly where the local telephone companies were simply too primitive. He did that, and now Ulan Bator is the Third World's most wirelessly connected city. Then they asked him to pioneer the application of wireless to "local history organizations." He did so, and the service has been recognized by the national television History Channel as worthy of its labels.
Technology advisers in the White House in 1997 recommended that Federal Communications Commission officials listen to Hughes' recommendations on how revolutionary wireless could be used for education. He has since made numerous presentations there.
In 1998 Hughes was asked to conduct a seminal Emerging Wireless Conference in Washington DC for high-level officials from the Federal Communications Commission, the National Science Foundation, Congressional staffs, and other institutions. Senior National Science Foundation officials were so impressed that they asked Hughes if he would accept a 3-year, $1,000,000 grant to model advanced wireless for Biological and Environmental Science in remote areas. At age 72, he accepted the request, received the award, and as the principal investigator of the project, is one year into the project which takes him personally into the rain forests of Puerto Rico, the lakes of Northern Wisconsin, and glacier areas of central Alaska.
In August 2000 Hughes was invited by the National Science Foundation to its international Long Term Environmental Research Conference, to speak to some 1000 biological and environmental scientists from 21 nations. There his reputation for using wireless technologies in novel ways to connect scientific field experiments in remote areas had preceded him. At the conference, where he was identified as a West Pointer, principal scientists from eight foreign research locations asked Hughes to assist them in difficult communications problems in some of the most remote places on earth. One request was to come to Antarctica to help collect wireless data in real time from a forbidding island six kilometers at sea. A Yale scientist who leads expeditions into Borneo to study jungle ecology requested his services in linking up field parties in real time to researchers in the United States. The director of research for a university on Mindanao in the Philippines asked his help in designing an extensive wireless network extending from his campus into distant stations. A scientist from a Bangkok university who sought to track tigers in a remote area of Thailand asked him to help with wireless devices that could be attached to the tigers and linked to the Internet. The director of research for the Mongolian Academy of Science thanked Hughes publically for his 1995 work in Ulan Bator, saying that it had led Mongolia to turn to the United States more than any other nation for collaborative assistance to help develop their nation. The program director told the audience that in 1994 the National Science Foundation had concluded that West Pointer David Hughes was the only person they knew in the world who could undertake and succeed in that challenging project in such a difficult and remote place that was still in political turmoil.
Advocate and Spokesman (1985-onward). For the last 15 years, on an Internet service called "The Well," Hughes has been one of the only experienced military officers, and the only West Point graduate, who has daily been in contact online with more than 10,000 young, generally highly liberal, anti-military, and anti-Vietnam-war citizens, including many journalists. In spite of the hostile culture of most of the others, largely from the Berkeley California area, he has consistently spoken up on behalf of West Point, the military profession, and patiently explained the "why" of West Point and our behavior in wars. His telecommunications skills have permitted him to engage over a long period of time with an audience he would have little contact with otherwise, and helped educate them through Desert Storm, Somalia, Panama, Bosnia, and current operations in Kosovo. While he does not claim to have made many converts to military service, he has by himself "carried the flag" in the inimical political camp, and defended it stoutly for more than a decade, earning respect for West Point among the hitherto uninformed.
Recently Hughes has become increasingly involved with the efforts of West Point graduates to use modern telecommunications and Internet technologies to connect up their ranks across the world. He has offered his time and expertise to this effort, some of which is by the Association of Graduates, and others by a private, non-profit organization called West-Point.Org. He has particularly been concerned about the growing gap between civilians and the military. He has advocated, and has shown by example on a very advanced form of public online dialogue called Caucus, how graduates can hold serious, effective, online colloquies with the public and the press on all things military, and in particular the rationale for and contributions of West Point.
Using his skills in public online dialogue, Hughes has been in the past year an effective advocate on behalf of all Korean War veterans for recognition of their contributions in that war, in spite of the press preoccupation with the alleged civilian deaths at No Gun Ri. His op-ed pieces have appeared in newspapers across the country, his opinion has been sought out by reporters, and he has been quoted repeatedly, in the New York Times and other papers. Denver's Rocky Mountain News first featured Hughes in early 1952 during the controversial news surrounding both the savage Korean War and the 1951 cheating scandal at West Point. Colorado's then Senator Eugene Millikin read one of Hughes's inspirational Letters from Korea on the floor of the United States Senate. He was awarded a national Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge award for his writing from Korea in 1952, and his letters were widely circulated by the press of the day. In June 2000, on the 50th Anniversary of that war, the Rocky Mountain News featured him again, and cited his enduring support for the men who fought and died under his command there.
Because of his online advocacy on behalf of Korean War Veterans, CBS Evening news came to West Point in May, 2000, and covered the 50th Reunion of the Class of 1950 and its special role and sacrifices in the Korean War.
Hughes' talent as a writer and speaker, backed up by his military accomplishments in war and peace, has made him an inspirational spokesman for West Point, the United States military, and Americans at war for over fifty years. His optimism and determination to "get the job done" even during the darkest days shines through his prose, online and off.
Virtual West Point (1999). Dave Hughes has proposed a sweeping, imaginative, unprecedented, and forward looking entity called a "Virtual West Point." It would be a system of systems whereby the 100 million Americans today who use the Internet (among whom are millions of school age children), including key sectors such as elected officials, can "visit" West Point in depth electronically. Here they can gain insights into the Academy's values, methods, need for public support need, and its rationale and importance to our national security. They can learn and pass on West Point's story and that of its graduates from 1802 onward -- direct and unfiltered by the media. While the full development of the Virtual West Point would cost millions, Hughes has shown how it can reach more people more effectively at less cost than any traditional way and how it can engage the assistance of the tens of thousands of graduates in the common effort to educate and inform the public, and inspire youth to West Point's ideals and opportunities. Hughes has submitted an article describing his concept to Assembly.
Recognition. In early 1999, the City of Colorado Springs honored David Hughes for both his 25 years of civic contributions and his pioneering in the Information Age by a ceremony, proclamation, and bronze plaque, and by renaming a City public thoroughfare "Dave Hughes Cyberpath."
In November 1998, Dave Hughes was featured in Wired magazine, the leading publication of the Information Age, as the first among equals of the 25 Most Wired Persons in the World, characterized as "A Salute to Dreamers, Inventors, Mavericks, Leaders" and "Those Who Dare." He shared the honor with such luminaries as George Soros the Hungarian billionaire, Steve Jobs of Apple, Steve Ballmer of Microsoft. His West Point origins and Korean War service, including his combat decorations, were prominently mentioned.
David Hughes' life has demonstrated a tangible and continuing commitment to West Point's ideals and values. Throughout his public life he has let it be known, albeit quietly, that he is a West Pointer committed to its values of Duty, Honor, and Country in their broader meanings. His pride in West Point shines through. By his visibility as a graduate on the public scene, he has called attention to these ideals and values in their broader significance to the country. The inclosures to this nomination letter abound with references to that identification among the people that he has influenced and assisted.
In particular, and only incidentally to the other achievements that have gained him recognition, David R. Hughes has carried the West Point banner in some very contentious quarters over the years. Not preaching to the choir but to those who need his message, he has in national forums intelligently engaged some of the best minds and most powerful forces in the anti-military establishment and has won their respect. In many cases, he is the only West Pointer with whom these people have ever been in touch.
In the eighth decade of his life, Hughes shows no sign of slowing down in his business, civic, or West Point support activities. His call for a Virtual West Point is an example
Summary. David R. Hughes, USMA 1950,
...by applying in the Army on his last assignment and then in his community techniques of consensus building, rather than adversarial win-lose activities in a divided society;
...by providing, beginning in his own home town, an economic, cultural, and community model for the rebirth of declining American Main Streets, using new technologies and perceptions of economic change, before most of the public knew of these methods;
...by bringing new forms of distance learning and teaching to the most rural and technically disadvantaged communities in the United States, permitting them to perpetuate the vital American tradition of universal quality public education and lifelong learning;
...by showing by example and leadership how remote communities can bridge what could become a permanent "digital divide" that dispirits and splits poor Americans from rich and rural from urban, inspiring many to take up the "virtual community" networking cause;
...by imaginatively proposing that West Point do the same, to bridge the growing gulf between Americans and their military;
...by applying in his later years the most advanced technology of wireless communications, originally developed and secretly used by the US military for national security, to the general advancement of science, education, commerce, and government, in difficult and remote areas of the world as well as in typical industrialized areas;
...by using his highly developed skills in the new communications media to inform, educate, inspire, and motivate Americans with almost no contact with the US military or West Point, acquainting them with those institutions' necessary and admirable purposes and values in war and peace;
...and by achieving all these things virtually single-handed, without the support of personal wealth or large institutional backing...
...is now clearly recognized by much of
the rest of the world as a distinguished graduate of West Point. It is
time for the Long Gray Line to similarly recognize David Ralph Hughes,
USMA 1950, with the honor of
The attached inclosures support the above.
For the West Point Society of Annapolis:
Attachment: Notable Quotes from the Inclosures
Inclosures at Tabs A through M
Tab A, David R. Hughes' Early Military