Superintendent’s Corner

Dear Friends of Andersonville,

This year, which marks the 20th anniversary of the National Prisoner of War Museum, has brought many new visitors and distinguished guests to the park. Special events and programs are being offered throughout the year to recognize this important anniversary. The first in a series of special lectures took place on February 3rd with Dr. Evan Kutzler, who spoke about African American prisoners at Camp Sumter within the larger context of Slavery and Freedom at Andersonville.

On March 7th we installed a Grave Locator Kiosk that was funded by the Friends of Andersonville. Similar in appearance to an ATM machine, it has a touch screen and will help visitors find the grave of a loved one and will provide general information about the park. The kiosk has been a great success with the public and we have received many compliments on it. If you are in the park come by the Cemetery Office and take a look for yourself.

On March 10th and 11th the park hosted its annual Living History Weekend with a very large crowd on Saturday and a good size crowd on Sunday despite stormy weather. One month after Living History Weekend the park presented the first in a special 20th POW Museum Anniversary film series, showing a film on Prisoners of War from the American Revolution. We also celebrated the National Prisoner of War Museum’s 20th Anniversary by featuring many former Prisoners of War and distinguished guests for a commemorative event. The park continued the anniversary film series on May 5th and featured the film “80 Acres of Hell” which is about Camp Douglas during the Civil War.

Fred Boyles – photo by Hugh Peacock, NPS

For Memorial Day, Doug Livermore, a Major in the Maryland National Guard who works for the Under Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon, was slated to be our keynote speaker. Unfortunately, Major Livermore was unable to attend the event because he received deployment orders one week before Memorial Day. In keeping with the 20th museum anniversary theme, the park asked Fred Boyles to be the guest speaker. Boyles was the former Superintendent of Andersonville National Historic site for 19 years before moving to Cumberland Island National Seashore in 2009. In this job he was responsible for managing Georgia’s largest barrier island. Boyles retired as Superintendent of Cumberland Island National Seashore in Southeast Georgia in December 2013. Boyles’ home town is Gainesville, Florida. He graduated from Abraham Baldwin College in 1974 with an Associate’s degree and then went on the University of Georgia where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in 1976. He taught history, geography and economics at Center Junior High School in Waycross, Georgia for two years. He then went on to Clemson University where he earned a Master’s degree in 1980.

Boyles first went to work for the US Department of the Interior in 1979 as a Planner in the Southeast Regional Office in Atlanta. In 1981 he transferred to Cumberland Gap National Historic Park in Kentucky as Park Ranger (Historian). In 1985 he was appointed as Superintendent of Moores Creek National Battlefield in Currie, North Carolina. There he completed a 30-year planned project to remove a state highway from the historic Revolutionary War battlefield and constructed new visitor facilities.

Upon arriving as Superintendent of Andersonville and Jimmy Carter National Historic Sites in 1989, Boyles worked to develop both sites. In Plains he led the effort to restore Plains High School as the park’s visitor center. This project resulted in the park being selected for the National Partnership Award by the National Park Foundation. He was also responsible for the restoration and development of the Carter Boyhood Farm which opened in 2000. At Andersonville, Boyles worked closely with the American Ex-Prisoners of War to raise funds, plan, design, and construct the National Prisoner of War Museum which opened in 1998. He also worked with the Friends of Andersonville to create the Andersonville Trust which is an endowment fund that supports park programs. In that position he was responsible for Andersonville National Cemetery.

Boyles’ other career was as a Supply Corps officer in the Navy Reserve where he was a Captain. In 2004, while he was serving as Commanding Officer of Navy Cargo Handling Battalion Eleven, his unit was mobilized. That year he served as Officer in charge of 380 Navy stevedores conducting logistics work in Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Recently he was assigned to Commander Naval Forces Korea, based in Port Hueneme, California and completed two nine month deployments to US Naval Forces Korea before his retirement from the Navy in 2016 after 29 years of service. Outside of work, Boyles’ loyalties lie with his wife Debbie of 41 years, their two grown children (Cindy and Joe) and the Georgia Bulldogs. Fred and Debbie make their home in St Marys, Georgia.

Andersonville National Historic Site hosted its second Museum Lecture Series program on Saturday June 2nd with Andersonville Park Guide Jennifer Hopkins presenting on POWs during the First World War. The park has two more lecture series programs planned for August 4th and December 8th and three more film presentations planned for July 7th, September 1st, and October 6th.

Members of the park staff have been working on a Digital Memorialization project for the cemetery where we photograph every headstone. Once complete, an image of every headstone will be accessible on a database along with its GPS location. We have also been working with the Ride Home in planning the September event in honor of National POW/MIA Recognition Day. The ceremony at the park is scheduled for Friday September 21st.

The park’s traveling exhibit, Victory from Within, was seen by nearly 800,000 visitors to the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida while it was on display there. In May the exhibit moved to the Coronado Quivera Museum in Lyons, Kansas. If you live or are traveling in that area we invite you to stop and see it.

Thank you to the Friends of Andersonville for your generous support of the park and its mission. We hope to continue to work together with you for many years to come as we honor American prisoners of war and our military.

Sincerely,
Charles Sellars

Memorial Day Flag Placement – photo by Hugh Peacock, NPS

Museum 20th Anniversary, Evan Kutzler – photo by Hugh Peacock, NPS