U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. --
Three Air Force Academy employees say supporting cadets isn’t just their job, it’s their way of life.
Carey Bonnin, wife Bonnie Bonnin, and their daughter, Kim Williams, spend their work time supporting the Academy’s mission of developing leaders of character, and their time-off supporting cadets and showing their Falcon pride.
“We live it, breathe it, sleep it and work it,” Kim said. “We believe in the mission of the military and the Academy completely.”
Carey is the facility manager for Sijan and Vandenberg dormitories. Bonnie has been a logistics clerk at the Cadet Book Store in Vandenberg Hall since 1982. Kim is the Youth Activities Specialist at the Falcon Trail Youth Center here.
Carey retired from the Air Force in 1993. He was an airman when he and Bonnie moved to Douglass Valley in 1982. Kim was born at the base medical center and baptized at the Cadet Chapel in 1985.
The family became cadet sponsors in 1989. Since then, they’ve attended so many sporting events, booster activities and events here, they said they’ve lost count.
They’ve also lost count of the number of cadets and cadet-candidates they’ve sponsored, but said it’s somewhere around 70.
Bonnin photos show sponsor cadets at family events and celebrations, and cadet helping Kim with her homework.
“Having a strong support structure like the Bonnin’s is invaluable,” said Cadet 1st Class Ben Enterline, sponsored by the family since he was a cadet fourth class. “I don’t think I’d be anywhere now without them.”
Bonnie said she’s proud of the five cadets they’ve sponsored who have been assigned to the Academy's staff as officers. Among them is former U.S. Air Force Academy Preparatory School athletic director and Falcons football athlete, retired Lt. Col. Brian Watkins.
“I will tell you from the heart that I’ve never seen a more fanatical or supportive family,” Watkins said. “They literally took me in as one of their own when I came to the prep school 27 years ago and, if not for them, I would not have made it through. I am indebted to them forever.”
Watkins said Bonnie was in the stands every time he played on the field.
“That made all the difference,” he said.
Basketball is Bonnie and Kim’s favorite sport. They’re regularly court-side with Kim’s daughter Kayla in tow, dressed in the Academy colors to show their Falcon pride.
Bonnie said Kayla was born into her role as a Falcon fan. Two day’s overdue with Kayla, Kim went into labor at a 2005 Wyoming football lunch.
“People started calling Kayla ‘Little Falcon,”’ Bonnie said.
The Academy’s Athletic Department featured Bonnie, Kim and Kayla on a billboard advertising the Academy’s basketball season.
“It meant a lot to have my family recognized in this way,” Bonnie said. “We love the Academy and everything it stands for.”
Kim said the family’s pride is motivated by their care and concern for cadets.
“I want cadets we support to know how much the community cares and that our family is theirs,” she said. “We will always be here for them, even after they graduate.”