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Finding the silver lining; building a resilient mindset

Airman and his family

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Nicholas Rogers, 325th Fighter Wing paralegal apprentice, and his family pose for a photo at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 20, 2021. Rogers and his wife, Merissa, quickly learned resiliency skills and the call of the military when she went into labor with their daughter early while Rogers was assigned to another location for training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Magen M. Reeves)

Airman and his daughter

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Nicholas Rogers, 325th Fighter Wing paralegal apprentice, helps his daughter, Amelia, on the playground at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 20, 2021. Amelia was born during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and while Rogers was in his initial technical training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Magen M. Reeves)

Airman and his family

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Nicholas Rogers, 325th Fighter Wing paralegal apprentice, and his wife, Merissa, help their daughter on the playground at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, Oct. 20, 2021. When their daughter was born in May 2020, Rogers was unable to be at the hospital due to travel restrictions, but the family quickly learned how to flex during adversity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Magen M. Reeves)

TYNDALL ARE FORCE BASE, Fla. --

The past year and a half has been difficult for families across the globe as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many to miss events like weddings, birthdays, funerals and vacations.

Airman 1st Class Nicholas Rogers, 325th Fighter Wing paralegal apprentice, and his family experienced these struggles and quickly learned how to flex during the adversity.

During his technical school training, held at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, a Department of Defense stop movement was implemented. While he had already received a waiver to return home for his daughter’s birth, he learned his wife, Merissa, would be going into labor earlier than anticipated.

“I talked to my leadership and I knew I was asking for a big lift but that I would be super grateful if I could go [earlier],” Rogers recalled. “My Military Training Leader said that they couldn’t make any promises and I said that’s all I could ask for.”

Due to the adverse conditions and short notice, Rogers wasn’t able to be present when Amelia was born on May 10, 2020. Even though he was devastated, he utilized the resiliency skills he gained at Basic Military Training and worked to overcome the unexpected circumstances.

“I felt anxiety and fear; was everything going to be OK, what if something happens and I’m not there,” Rogers said. “I was probably more worried than my wife was.”

“Right away, [my leadership and I] sat down and we talked about the mindset and that being a part of the Air Force means sometimes missing birthdays and holidays,” Rogers continued. “I knew that I was a part of something bigger and that I put on this uniform to put service before self when the mission needs.”

Rogers was approved to fly out to North Carolina the week after his daughter’s birth to meet her and reconnect with his wife and elder son, Jack. After a few precious days, it was back to training.

“I chose to enlist,” said Rogers. “It was unfortunate that missing Amelia’s birth was the sacrifice [I had to make] but it is true what we say; that flexibility it the key to air power.”

Fast forward more than a year later to life at Tyndall where Rogers and his family are continuing to serve and to grow. Rogers said he was able to learn from his experience in tech school and apply those lessons here.

“I gained [understanding of] the importance of good leadership and good, open communication,” Rogers said. “I learned that I need everybody [in my chain of command] and that I can’t do everything by myself. I learned to reach out to my teammates, build relationships, and understand the aspect of the team. When you take care of the people around you it builds trust and loyalty.”