Graduates and friends support the Air Force Academy for a variety of personal reasons. When they include the Academy as part of their estate planning, they help ensure others are able to have similar experiences, impacting cadets for years to come.
Ed Mechenbier, USAFA Class of 1964, regularly expresses the mantra “Unity through selfless motivation.” The West Virginia native began his Air Force journey as an F-4C Phantom II pilot.
In 2006 Chris Taravella '73 returned to Colorado, which allowed him to serve the Air Force Academy in numerous ways.
As a financial advisor, Ralph “Bud” Nevers ’76 coined a new definition for the term “dust bunnies,” and they aren’t the kind you will find lurking under beds. His dust bunnies are forgotten or orphaned financial accounts.
“My life would have been totally different, and not as good, had I not graduated from the Air Force Academy,” says Mike Rose ’69.
Jim West ’59 has a financial instrument that did not even exist “back in the day”: the individual retirement account. He finds it to be a “marvelous way to give back,” especially for those who have reached the age of 70 1/2.
After graduating from CS-16, Hill became a C-130 pilot. After earning a master’s degree from George Washington University and separation from the Air Force after nine years, he headed to commercial carriers.
For Larry Fariss ’75, the USAFA experience always involved giving his time.
The United States Air Force Academy Endowment is focused on its singular mission to provide transformative philanthropic support to the U.S. Air Force Academy. During the Endowment’s first decade, private donors have supported that mission with more than $141 million.
When Jerry Smith ’62 read how his classmate and respected friend, Jack Swonson ’62, encourages the creation of a “Mack Truck Book” to enable surviving spouses and heirs to smoothly handle all the complexities of modern life, he took action.
Greg Gonyea, a proud member of the Air Force Academy Class of ’73, is grateful for how the Academy prepared him to serve the Air Force.
As a former fighter pilot who survived 300 combat missions in Southeast Asia, Fred Olmsted ’64 finds pleasure in giving back to the Air Force Academy. It trained him well.
A business challenge for Jack Kucera ’78 became a terrific philanthropic opportunity for the United States Air Force Academy Endowment.
When Jack Swonson '62 made some recent changes to his estate plans, he took it a step further, developing a thick, loose-leaf binder he calls his Mack Truck Book.
Max James ’64 and his family have maintained a long and deep association with the Academy ever since the Tennessee native became a Zoomie. Some of his helicopter rescues during his Southeast Asia combat tours were fellow grads, which was personally very rewarding
“The Air Force Academy was one of the best things to happen to me,” says Ivan. “it prepared me well for the rigors of serving in the heavy-combat zones, and now in my civilian career I am constantly drawing on the leadership and academic attributes I learned during my four Academy years.”
Jerry Roberts is quick to acknowledge that the Air Force Academy was a shaping force in his life, from the moment he arrived in the summer of 1961.
Recently Jim Shumate redrew his estate plans, and there is now a provision in his will to benefit the Air Force Academy. The 1979 graduate resides in Colorado Springs where he retired from active service as a Colonel in 2004.
When Lisa (Preston) Schmidt arrived at the Air Force Academy in 1984 she already possessed her private pilot’s license. In fact, she had it before her driver’s license. “I was excited to attend USAFA knowing that I could only begin to fathom the unexpected places, geographically and figuratively, it would take me,” says the Long Island native.
The 2016 USAFA Endowment Annual Report highlights the impact nearly 8,500 donors had on the U.S. Air Force Academy during the year and into the future.