Military Lessons: Sustainment and Sustainability
When Allen Boyette was finishing his final year at Wilson’s Fike High School, his father told him he had to do two things: take a typing class and sign up for NC State’s Army ROTC program before his freshman year.
Boyette didn’t particularly want to do either.
Now, as he sits at his desk at NC State’s Administrative Services III as the interim senior director for energy systems for facilities and maintenance, with three college degrees hanging on the wall, and when he’s on duty with the North Carolina National Guard, he’s pretty happy he listened to his dad.
He can’t imagine how he would do his jobs without the training he received in both disciplines.
His dual role includes military sustainment and campus sustainability, protecting the country while making sure NC State’s campus stays cool in the summer, warm in the winter by efficiently using its utilities and other sustainable resources.
“It helps that in both cases we work with big, complex systems, sometimes in emergency situations,” he says.
Boyette is a double NC State graduate, with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering (1987) and a master’s degree in civil engineering (2007), not to mention his master’s degree in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College. Nothing made him prouder than serving as a color guard member for games at Reynolds Coliseum and Carter-Finley Stadium as a cadet in the ROTC program.
He’s a decorated veteran — he earned the Bronze Star, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with four oak-leaf clusters and other military honors — who served in Korea, California and at North Carolina’s Fort Bragg during his six years on active duty after receiving his commission.
He joined the N.C. National Guard in 1994, and was deployed for 18 months of combat operations in Iraq in 2003 and 12 months on a partner training mission in Jordan in 2015.
A licensed professional engineer, Boyette returned to NC State in 2000 as director of building maintenance and operations and has been employed at his alma mater ever since, except for the two year-long deployments he did in the Middle East.
He’s also a community volunteer who has coached youth league and middle school baseball in the Raleigh suburb of Zebulon, where he was named the 2014 Citizen of the Year, and served on the board of the town’s parks and recreation department.
In other words, Boyette is the embodiment of the citizen soldier, someone who on any given day could be working on the steam systems around campus, overseeing a strategic command at North Carolina’s Joint Force Headquarters off Blue Ridge Road in Raleigh or helping one of his three sons learn to hit a curveball.
“I consider the duties and missions of all that I do to be fairly complementary,” Boyette says. “I take lessons that I learn at NC State and apply them to the National Guard. I also take my military experiences and bring them back to campus.
“I hope it makes me better at both jobs.”
He’s currently the highest-ranking officer on what is recognized as one of the best colleges in America for veterans and a proud graduate of an ROTC program that has carried on NC State’s military science tradition since the school began military training in 1894. NC State currently has about 700 military veterans, 1,500 military dependents and 330 enrolled ROTC cadets and midshipmen.
This spring, Boyette was promoted from colonel to brigadier general. He is one of three assistant adjutant generals of the NCNG, which includes 12,000 soldiers and airmen from across the state, and oversees two subordinate commands, the 113th sustainment brigade and the 130th maneuver enhancement brigade. They are charged with training and deploying engineers and technicians where they are needed in support of combat operations abroad and domestic operations within the state.
He’s one of a dozen graduates of the Wolfpack Battalion, NC State’s Army ROTC corps, to achieve the rank of general, a list that includes “Father of the Airborne Command” Gen. William C. Lee and retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Hugh Shelton.
Boyette’s schedule is jam-packed. Aside from the daily responsibility of keeping the lights on around campus, he’s helped with hurricane relief efforts in eastern North Carolina for Floyd, Fran and Matthew and for crowd management during last fall’s riots and demonstrations in Charlotte. He’s been around the world, from the Korean peninsula to Tajikistan to Iraq to Jordan to Saudi Arabia to Oman and back to the climate-controlled comfort he oversees from his campus office.
He’s proud that his employer facilitates his military service, and he’s proud that the military relies on his alma mater for strong leaders and engineers.
“NC State has a proud tradition of supporting the military,” he says. “I started as a student in ROTC and have advanced through the command structure. It’s been a great opportunity for me to come home and apply what I learn in the military here at NC State.
“I’m grateful for the support we have.”