Chaplain (Major) Ken Bolin grew up on a farm in Illinois. His father was a mechanic, and his mother was a stay-at-home mom who was also a Red Cross volunteer. Both parents were trained as EMTs. Entering West Point with the Class of ‘96, he found the experience challenging. Initially a Physics major, he transitioned to an Arabic – French double major. Coming from a Lutheran background, he joined the Protestant Chapel Choir, and by the time he was a Firstie (senior) he was the Cadet-in-Charge of the Choir. While at the Academy, he met his future wife, who was a member of the Class of ‘98. He branched Infantry, and his first assignment was at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, with the 101st Airborne Division. Eventually, he was assigned as the Battalion S1 (Adjutant), and worked closely with the Battalion XO (Executive Officer) Mark McManigal (see separate interview). He deployed to the Sinai Peninsula as part of the MFO peacekeeping mission (Multinational Force and Observers) between the Egyptian and Israeli armies. Returning from the desert, he trainsitioned to the Signal Corps and commanded a company in Saudi Arabia. His Soldiers and property were spread across five countries. In 2003, he felt the call to become a chaplain and attended the Dallas Theological Seminary, graduating in 2006. He deployed to Iraq as a Chaplain on a 15-month deployment with the 502nd MI Battalion in August 2006. Following his Iraq deployment, he transitioned to the Anglican faith after studying early church history. In 2011, he deployed to Afghanistan with the 4th Brigade, 25th Infantry Division as the Brigade Chaplain. Returning home in 2012, he transitioned to the Catholic faith, and in March 2013 he became a Catholic Chaplain in the Army, one of the few with a wife and children. In May 2016, he returned to West Point as the Priest for the Parish of the Most Holy Trinity. Following his West Point assignment, he returned to 4th Brigade, 25th Infantry Division.
In this interview, Father Ken talks about his experiences at West Point and his service in the Army in three different branches. He discusses his service as a Chaplain, and some successes and challenges along the way. Throughout, he recalls various individuals who have helped, inspired, and mentored him. Finally, he describes what West Point means to him.