After a thirty-four-year career in the military, Brigadier General William Boardley ’72 retired as commander of the 171st Air Refueling Wing of the Pennsylvania National Guard.
When Boardley graduated from IUP with a degree in Criminology, he intended to pursue a life of law enforcement. That changed when his draft number was called. His new career took him to Air Force officer training school in Texas, where he received his commission to second lieutenant in December, 1972. He received his navigator wings the following year and was assigned to Beale Air Force Base in California as a crew member on a KC-135 Stratotanker and, as captain, supported the SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance aircraft on missions around the world.
In 1978, Boardley joined the Pennsylvania Air National Guard at Pittsburgh International Airport and served at numerous staff officer positions, including navigator, operations plan officer, aircrew scheduler, and operations officer. In July, 1995, he became wing commander of the 171st Air Expeditionary Wing, serving in military operations in areas including Asia, Bosnia, and Yugoslavia.
He participated in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm as aircrew member and staff planner for the 1713th Air Refueling Wing; was wing commander during the 171st ARW’s participation in Operation Allied Force in May, 1999; and was deployed as the ARW’s commander during Operation Iraqi Freedom in March, 2003, overseeing flight operations supporting midair refueling of B-52s, Navy fighters, and NATO-allied aircraft supporting soldiers on the ground.
As a Master Navigator, Boardley flew over 6,740 hours in the T-29 (a “flying classroom” used to train navigators) and the KC-135. His twenty-seven military awards and decorations include an air medal, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, and both the Air Force and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Distinguished Service medals. He recently received the 2006 Outstanding Community Leader Award from the Pittsburgh Airport Area Chamber of Commerce.
In an article from the Observer-Reporter, Boardley noted that retirement will take some getting used to, as will an anticipated change in command. “I kid people,” Boardley said. “I’m leaving a post where I’m the commander to a two-person household where I’m second in charge.”
The Washington (Pa.) native and his wife, Carol, will stay in the home they built in Hopewell Township in 1998. They have two children, Amy and Matthew.