Taking an oath, paying it forward

  • Published
  • By SrA Jourdan Barrons
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
His coworkers described him in a few short words: positive, strong, and lively. Friends and family say Senior Airman Pascal Nyowatchon has a smile that’s contagious and a personality that fills a room.

“I come to work happy every day,” Nyowatchon said “I smile, I laugh.”

His decision to always 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.”

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.

“I always wanted to come to the U.S. and go to school and get my education done and have a better life” Nyowatchon said.

After two years of waiting and filing out documents, his family was approved to come to the U.S. and gaining his citizenship became his new goal. It wasn’t until 2013 that his persistence paid off and Nyowatchon raised his hand, took an oath and became a U.S. citizen.

“I can recall it, yes, it was really nice,” Nyowatchon said with a light in his eyes. “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”.

Nyowatchon planned to go to school and further his education but something else was at the back of his mind.

“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 U.S. Air Force he brings his positive personality and motivation to his peers and leaders.
Tech Sgt Twan Jennings, the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of Client Systems and Nyowatchon’s supervisor describes 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 cross-train and become a Chaplain's assistant and possibly become an Air Force Chaplain one day.

“We are all connected no matter where you come from, no matter your background.” Nyowatchon said “We are all connected, so you might as well just make them happy if you can.”

He is grateful for all the opportunities given to him and is especially thankful his family will not have to endure the same hardships 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, the Air Force is taking care of us, and I will not take that for granted.”