I am honored to write to you today about joining me as a supporter of the Academy’s 2024 West Point Parents Fund. As a graduate, I know my foundational West Point education propelled my 25-year career in the Army, my 22-year career at NASA, and now in the private sector. I’ve also had the opportunity to see the Academy through several different lenses. Shortly after graduation, I was a graduate assistant coach of the Army West Point baseball team. After my command tours and graduate school, I returned to West Point to be an assistant professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences and an Officer Representative to the baseball team. Most recently, I’ve become a proud West Point parent. Through all these lenses, I’ve seen this institution’s impact on our future leaders. Like me, your experiences with the Academy have shown you that West Point is remarkable and worth investing in.

I have seen firsthand what private support has made possible at the Academy and the innovation that results from it. Earlier this year, I met with cadets, and I was joined by fellow former colleagues from NASA who are also West Point graduates, Astronaut and retired Colonel Mike Mullane ’67 and Astronaut and retired Colonel Bill McArthur ’73. West Point announced a new intergalactic STEM scholarship with the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation during our visit. This scholarship, sponsored by the West Point Technical Scholars Program, will provide West Point cadets with enrichment opportunities for years to come. It was exciting to be with cadets who are the future generation of leaders and possibly space explorers and that could potentially land on Mars one day. I could not believe the facilities, technologies, and research opportunities that the cadets and the faculty have today. It’s impressive to see how these enhancements will enrich the cadets’ 47-month experience. But ultimately, it’s even broader than that. Your support of these Margin of Excellence programs will ensure the Army is set up for success in the next decade, and beyond. Your support will help the Army serve our nation at the highest level.

I was not one of those kids who always wanted to go to West Point. I didn’t know much about it, even though my dad was a career Army officer. At the end of my junior year in high school, my father encouraged me to apply. I had a wonderful recruiting trip with the help of the baseball team and coaches. Shortly after that visit, I realized I wanted to do something different and more challenging than my friends and peers were doing. Ultimately, I realized I wanted to serve my country, so West Point became my clear choice. This drive to challenge myself continued after graduation where I had the opportunity to lead so many amazing soldiers in our Army. While I was teaching at West Point, I was offered the chance to join the NASA team. At NASA, I had the opportunity to work aboard the International Space Station with amazing astronauts from many different countries. We conducted world-class science and research daily with the assistance of our amazing Mission Control teams on our home planet—Earth.

One of my favorite memories of West Point was graduation day. I’m sure this is true for most graduates. For the Class of 1989, it was pouring down rain during the entire ceremony. It was raining so hard that the safest way to get down from the stage was to slide down the ramp and splash in the huge puddle at the bottom. As the years go by, I appreciate many lifelong West Point friendships with my company mates and teammates. Going through hard things creates strong bonds and lifelong friendships. I think about the Academy daily because when I wake up every morning my phone has encouraging texts from several of my classmates. This is a great way to stay connected and continue to encourage one another. Because of those long-standing bonds and friendships, I appreciate the role the Academy continues to play in my life every day.

For parents, I found it is not an easy journey. Still, you are going to see your cadet develop and mature, be confident about what they are doing, and feel pride about what they have accomplished. We certainly saw that in our son. By the end of his experience, he was ready to lead soldiers in the best Army in the world. Your cadet will receive a phenomenal education, an unsurpassed foundation in leadership, and unparalleled summer training—all this while creating lifelong friendships. At the end of the 47-month experience, your son or daughter is going to go lead soldiers in the Army right away, and that experience will set them up for success in the Army or in the private sector for life. Today’s cadets are consistently choosing a path to do something more challenging than their peers.

I give back to keep West Point on the leading edge of many things, such as technology, research, education, and athletics. Our collective support helps to make the experience both challenging and rewarding for future cadets. Please consider joining me in supporting the West Point Parents Fund, which makes opportunities such as cadet internships and overseas experiences, athletic teams, clubs, as well as the Academy’s world-class centers and academic programs possible.

Together, we can enhance the preparation of our future leaders who will serve with honor and character for our Army and nation.

COL (R) Shane Kimbrough

COL Shane Kimbrough USA, Retired
Class of 1989

COL (R) Shane Kimbrough '89

COL Shane Kimbrough USA, Retired
Class of 1989 – “We Strengthen the Line”
Retired NASA Astronaut
Proud parent of Zack, Class of 2022

West Point Parents Fund Distribution

Number Represents a Five-Year Average

SAF Impact