This report originally published at defense.gov.
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany —
Air Force Senior Airman Pascal Nyowatchon’s co-workers describe him in a few short words: positive, strong and lively.
“I come to work happy every day,” Nyowatchon said “I smile. I laugh.”
Nyowatchon said his decision to keep smiling is a goal he set at a young age. Nyowatchon grew up in Togo, a small tropical country in western Africa and the site of political turmoil for more than 50 years, forcing families like Nyowatchon’s to be uprooted from their homes and seek refuge in neighboring countries.
“I remember being a little kid not knowing what’s going on.” Nyowatchon said “We just left everything behind. It was tough.”
That hardship is what motivated him to keep his head up, work hard and influence others to maintain their resilience.
“I learned from a young age that when things come your way, embrace it,” Nyowatchon said “Stop complaining. Life is not meant to be easy, so just take one step at a time.”
Coming to the U.S.
In early 2005, Nyowatchon and his family found themselves fleeing the country again. This time, while in Ghana, they applied for a visa to come to the United States.
“Nyowatchon said he’d always wanted to go to the United States to “have a better life.”
After two years of waiting and filing out documents, his family was approved to come to the U.S. In 2013 he became a U.S. citizen.
“I can recall it, yes. It was really nice,” Nyowatchon said of his citizenship ceremony. “I made sure I dressed up. I was looking sharp and holding the U.S. flag. And, I remember singing the national anthem. It was like I was an original American.”
He planned to go to school and further his education but something else was at the back of his mind.
Joining the Air Force
“It always came back to me,” Nyowatchon said “I promised something to an immigration officer that I would defend the U.S. Constitution.”
Today, he serves as a client system technician in the Air Force with the 435th Air Ground Operations Wing here, where he brings his positive personality and motivation to his peers and leaders.
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Twan Jennings, Nyowatchon’s supervisor, described him as someone who likes to go above and beyond.
“He wants to be the one to do everything,” Jennings said “He’s like a ray of sunshine. And, his trust in God, knowing he’ll never fail him, makes him who he is so nothing can defeat him.”
Nyowatchon’s faith is something he wants to share with more people. He has aspirations to become a chaplain’s assistant and possibly become an Air Force chaplain one day.
He is grateful for all the opportunities given to him, and is especially thankful his family will not have to endure the same hardships as he did.
“I’m very happy for my son,” Nyowatchon said. “He has a U.S. passport. It’s a privilege being a U.S. citizen and having access to things other people don’t have access to. I have a house I’ve never had before. I have a family, and the Air Force is taking care of us. And, I will not take that for granted.”
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