Texas A&M University
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COLLEGE STATION - Texas A&M University will recognize the lifetime achievements of four former cadets Oct. 28 as it inducts them into its Corps Hall of Honor at 9 am at the Sam Houston Sanders Corps Center.
Leslie L Appelt, a member of Texas A&M's Class of 1941; L. Lowry Mays, Class of '57; Raul B. Fernandez, Class of '59; and the late Capt. Robert L. Acklen Jr,, Class of â€˜63, will be inducted.
"Young people need strong role models," said Maj. Gen. Ted Hopgood commandant of cadets. "When we induct Aggies into the Hall of Honor, we're saying those Aggies are truly outstanding."
The Corps Hall of Honor was established in 1993 to pay tribute to former members of the university's Corps of Cadets who have lived a life that exemplifies the Texas Aggie spirit. They must also possess the values on which the Corps is founded: honor, loyalty, service, pride, patriotism, faith, leadership and honesty. To date, 32 former cadets have been inducted.
Aggie cadets can take much from the example set by Les Appelt. After receiving a bachelor of science degree in engineering from Texas A&M in 1941, Appelt served in World War II as operations officer of the 37lst Engineers Construction Battalion. Following the war, he began a long and distinguished career in commercial real estate development and property management in Houston, founding several successful companies and managing limited partnerships in Texas, Louisiana and Alabama. He also served as president and director of the Houston Board of Realtors, national president of the Society of Industrial Realtors and on numerous religious, civic and governmental boards and committees.
However, Appelt's public service has perhaps been greatest to Texas A&M. This includes many years as a trustee of the Texas A&M Foundation, with four terms as chairman of the board and appointment as trustee emeritus; a term as president of the Association of Former Students; conception and development of the Appelt Aggieland Visitor Center in Rudder Tower and service as founder and chairman of the board of directors of Texas A&Mâ€™s Center for Private Enterprise Research. He has also
served on the President's Council and other university committees and has endowed two major university scholarships. He is a Distinguished Alumnus and Appelt Hall on campus is named in his honor. Appelt now resides in Bastrop.
Mays is another Aggie whose entrepreneurial spirit and selfless public service are worthy of emulation by future Corps of Cadets graduates. After receiving a bachelor of science degree in petroleum engineering from Texas A&M in 1957, Mays served as an Air Force officer. He received an M.B.A. from Harvard University in 1962 and began a career in finance and investment banking in San Antonio. This led to the formation of Clear Channel Communications, Inc. in 1972. Under Mays' leadership, the company has grown from one radio station into a global broadcasting and advertising giant operating some 874 radio and 19 television stations in the U.S. and more than 700,000 outdoor advertising displays worldwide. Mays also has been chairman of the Joint Board of the National Broadcasters Association and has been inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame and the Texas Business Hall of Fame.
Moreover, Mays has translated this business leadership into community 'leadership. That includes serving on the boards of numerous civic organizations kind public institutions such as the San Antonio United Way, YMCA and Chamber of Commerce, the state's Permanent University Fund, and both the Baptist Memorial Hospital System and University of Texas Health Science Center. His continuing interest in his alma mater is most evident in his service as a member of The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents, the Visual Arts and College of Engineering Development Councils, Memorial Student Center Council, and major university fundâ€‘raising committees, He is a Distinguished Alumnus and the Lowry Mays College & Graduate School of Business on campus is named for him.
Fernandez has worked tirelessly on behalf of the Corps of Cadets for decades, helping to preserve it for future cadets. He received a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering in 1959, served two years as an Army artillery officer and became a successful builder in San Antonio. In 1989 and again in 1998 Fernandez was named "Builder of the Year" by the Greater San Antonio Builders Association. He has also devoted much time to educational issues serving variously as a trustee of the Northside Independent School District, president of the Bexar County Federation of School Boards, vice chairman of The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents and a member of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. His support for Texas A&M has been manifest as well, serving terms as president of the Association of Former Students and the San Antonio A&M Club, chairman of the Corps Development Council and member of the board of directors of the 12th Man Foundation.
Despite these and other civic commitments, Fernandez has remained a strong and steadfast supporter of the Corps for some 30 years. His participation in Corps affairs dates to 197 1, when he served on a Corps think tank of the Student Senate Alumni Advisory Board. Since then, Fernandez has been a leader in developing the Corps and ensuring its future. In 1984, he was a charter member of the Corps Development Council and served three years as its chairman in the early 1990's. He was a key player in the development of Corps endowment programs, construction of the Sanders Corps of Cadets Center on campus, and establishment of the Committee on Strength and Enrollment. At a time when its fortunes seemed at ebb, Fernandez helped rescue the Corps from the tides of decline. The strong base of support and concrete vision for the future that he helped to foster will ensure the existence of the Corps for decades to come.
Cadets at Texas A&M would also do well to emulate the heroic and humanitarian example of Capt. Bob Acklen. He graduated from Texas A&M with a bachelor of arts degree in history and was commissioned an Army officer in 1967. In 32 months as a helicopter pilot and infantry company commander in Vietnam, Acklen received 17 decorations for valor in combat. He left the fighting in Vietnam, only after suffering a broken back in a helicopter crash. During his 22 months in the hospital, doctors said he would never walk again but he proved them wrong, completing the rugged Army Ranger Course as an honor graduate a year later. Acklen continued to serve until 1976 when he was retired for physical disability as a result of his Vietnam injuries. At retirement, his military decorations included the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, six Bronze Star Medals (four for valor), 40 Air Medals (four for valor), four Army Commendation Medals (three for valor), the Purple Heart, and three Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry, among others.
The selflessness Acklen displayed in combat continued in his civilian life. He earned a degree in computer science, becoming a computer programmer and systems analyst in Dallas. Over several years, he donated his services to help develop the computer system of the St. John Ophthalmic Hospital in Jerusalem, traveling to Israel at his own expense. For that work, Acklen was made a knight of the Order of St. John. He worked with veterans groups, assisting fellow Vietnam veterans and their families, and with civic organizations such as the Jaycees and Lions Club. For his service to those in need, he was made a knight of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus by the Duke of Savoy. Tragically, his global humanitarian efforts were cut short when he died of a brain tumor in 1998 at age 57.
Texas A&M's 2,000â€‘member Corps of Cadets is the largest uniformed body of students outside the U.S. service academies. It also fields the nation's largest precision military marching band, numbering some 400 cadets. In the corps, cadets gain valuable leadership experience that complements their academic education. While cadets can earn commissions as military officers, membership in the corps itself carries no military obligation.