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17958 Hughes, David Ralph 
 Wireless Alaska
August 24, 2000

To:      John H. Cushman, Lt. General, USA (Ret)
From:  H.A. "Red" Boucher, Former Lt. Governor of Alaska (1971-75)
Subject: Nomination of David R. Hughes as Distinguished Graduate, USMA

I wish to heartily endorse the nomination of David R Hughes as a Distinguished Graduate of West Point.

I have known Dave Hughes since 1981, when I, as the recent past Lieutenant Governor of Alaska and past Mayor of  Fairbanks, was searching for ways the new computer and communications technologies could be used to benefit remote Alaska, where I have lived and worked since I retired from the Navy in 1957.  I served from 1938 to 1957.  During WWII I served as a Chief Aerographers Mate aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, the most decorated ship in naval history.

Alaska, the largest state in the Union, is a fifth the size of the continental US.  Many of the States communities (over 300) are small native villages that are isolated from the urban areas of Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau and are not connected by roads or highways. Communication, for education, health, government, and business is difficult and costly. 

I joined the first commercial modem dial up service in the world, The Source, in 1981, and soon discovered Dave Hughes, who already was famous on that system.

We hit it off immediately, for Hughes was advanced technically, but fully understood and promoted the need to reach the most remote and disadvantaged communities in the world with the new tools. Like myself, he was a driver, who got things done. He was, and still is, a great help to me in finding the hardware, software, communications links - and now wireless data radios - and equally importantly, how best to apply these tools in difficult places. He has helped me, over the past 20 years, in my quest of connecting up the most remote Eskimo villages in Alaska to the rest of the world. Not only does he have a complete understanding of the technical aspect of information technology, he also has an excellent grasp of the social and cultural applications of the technology.  His work in helping underdeveloped nations and communities is greatly respected at both the national and international levels.

In 1982, Dave Hughes pioneered the first 'distance learning' course in the world online, via The Source. It was at the formal College level, from Colorado Technical University in Colorado Springs. I became one of his online students, from Alaska, so that I could learn how this technology could be used for the education of Alaskans, no matter where they were.

This was such a landmark event, The Source, a national corporation owned by the Readers Digest, featured that course, Professor Dave Hughes, and I, the remote student, in its Sourceworld Publication. It attracted lots of favorable press, in Alaska as well as the Lower 48. It was a groundbreaking educational initiative.

In the early 80's, I flew Dave to Anchorage where he met key University and communications Company officials, and inspired them with his vision of a connected future.  At the same time he learned from them how the larger institutions could become part of the overall communications fabric of Alaska. Later I flew to Colorado Springs to get to know this man and absorb his progressive ideas even more. 

While I was running for public office - the Alaskan State Legislature in 1984 - I received a great deal of help from Dave in articulating my case to Alaskans why the new telecommunications and computer technologies could help our State. I won a seat in the Legislature, using my growing computer skills to help get the job done, and became the Chairman of the Alaska's Legislatures first Telecommunications Subcommittee.  The committee initiated legislation, and saw passed into law, legislation that formed the Telecommunication Information Council.  During the period when the legislation was being drafted David Hughes was of immeasurable help in assisting my committee in drafting the law's language.

The TIC committee, chaired by the Governor of Alaska and consisting of all of the Department Heads in Alaska State government, has since it's inception in 1987, established telecommunication policy for the state of Alaska.   

Following my retirement from the Alaska State House in 1990, I saw, as Dave had already seen, the future value of new forms of wireless communication, that could enable the remote native villages of Alaska to be connected to the world of information. We held numerous consultations while I was forming the company 'Alaska Wireless'.  David always was able to give me timely and sound advice, while understanding the broad implications of  what we were both trying to do.  Some of the issues involving wireless echo clear back to Congress and the Federal Communications Commission. Dave assisted me greatly in preparing myself to appear before the Senate Telecommunications Sub Committee, when they met in Anchorage. At the request of my good friend Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens, I was able to deliver Hughes message on what Congress and the FCC should be doing differently in their laws and rules to make wireless more available to remote Americans. 

Hughes helped me showcase one of the most striking examples of the power of wireless, before an influential gathering of Washington insiders at his 'Emerging Wireless Technologies' conference at George Washington University, in Washington, D.C. in May of 1998. I was able to show government officers from the FCC, Department of Commerce, White House, NSF, and other agencies, how the wireless devices that Dave champions, were deployed in severe Arctic weather condition in Toksook Bay, Alaska a tiny Eskimo village on the Bering Sea. This has resulted in this remotest of Alaska communities being connected to the world of information known as the worldwide web.  With Dave's help Project Toksook has been featured in numerous publications including the Outlook section of the Washington Post  on August 8, 1998.

Most recently, Dave is once again helping Alaska, by agreeing, to undertake the support of Alaskan Environmental and Biological Scientists at the University of Alaska to better collect data from some of the most severe weather places on the globe. At 72 years of age Dave will be traveling, into the Alaskan field on power boats, ATVs, snowmobiles, snowshoes, and his own footgear to both deploy advanced data radios and satellite systems- and more importantly - teach everyone in Alaska how to do it for themselves, and their communities.

I will continue to follow his technical lead, and will publicize his efforts on my weekly statewide television show  "Alaska On-Line 
Dave Hughes is an outstanding representative of the kind of men West Point produces, and he definitely should be recognized as a Distinguished Graduate!

Respectfully submitted,

H.A. 'Red' Boucher
Lieutenant Governor of Alaska (1971-75)