FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE — Since he was nine years old, Air Force Airman 1st Class Adeola Adeboyejo, an outbound assignment technician with the 92nd Force Support Squadron, has been working toward his dream of becoming a pilot. Adeboyejo grew up in Nigeria and had a seemingly normal upbringing, despite being born into royalty.
“My dad was born a prince, but instead of living a royal life he went to college to become an engineer,” Adeboyejo said. “He would tell me stories of being a prince and what it entails in Africa.”
Adeboyejo said he went to high school when he was nine years old and graduated when he was 15. He then attended The Federal University of Technology, Akure in Nigeria to study information technology. He said he soon realized that a technology degree wasn’t what he wanted. Around that time, an opportunity arose for him to come to the United States.
“My mom was already in the U.S., so she suggested I move there to go to school,” Adeboyejo said.
Culture, Climate Shock
Adeboyejo said he jumped at the opportunity and moved to Wisconsin where his family lived. At first, he said, the change in location shocked him. It was nothing like he expected, but he said it did not disappoint him.
“Back in Nigeria, we think everything in the U.S. is free,” Adeboyejo said. “I was impressed with how everything was when I got here. Then, when I saw snow and realized how cold it was, I wanted to go back.”
Once Adeboyejo started taking classes, he said he found schools in the U.S. and Nigeria to be similar. The only difference, he said, was the U.S. offered more hands-on experiences.
“I’m a visual learner, so to be able to take a lab or be shown how to do something helped me out,” he said.
During this time, Adeboyejo said he was looking into the costs of becoming a pilot. He said he found it would cost more than $70,000 — much more than he expected.
“Some of my cousins told me certain airlines would pay for my school if I worked for them for so many years, but when I contacted the airlines the program wasn’t offered anymore,” Adeboyejo said. But, he added, his desire to become a pilot didn’t diminish.
“My pastor told me the Air Force was the way to go,” he said. “I did some research and found it was not only a good way for me to become a pilot, but to also have my school paid for.”
Six months after he joined the Air Force, Adeboyejo became a U.S. citizen, but because he couldn’t keep dual citizenship in the military, he had to give up his Nigerian passport.
“Nigeria has played a big role in developing me, but I feel it has given me all it can right now,” he said.
Adeboyejo’s job as an outbound assignment technician involves processing airmen for permanent changes of station, retirement or separation. Airmen need official orders to be authorized Air Force funds to PCS to their gaining base. Once notified, he and his coworkers sort out every assignment and get the documents needed for orders.
“PCSing is fun and exciting for a lot of airmen,” Adeboyejo said. “When they come to me, I can make the move happen for them.”
Feeling at Home
Despite being new to the U.S. and the Air Force, Adeboyejo said he’s felt particularly welcome at Fairchild. The Spokane community accepts and cares for the airmen, he said.
“I’m currently a part of the Airmen Against Drunk Driving program [and] act as the dorm chief for the 92nd Comptroller Squadron and 92nd Communications Squadron,” Adeboyejo said. “I also help with events in my squadron.”
Adeboyejo is also putting together his application for the Air Force Academy. He has taken his American College Testing exam and received recommendation letters from his superiors. Selections are slated to be announced in March.
“Being in the military, I am living my brother’s dream,” he said. “When I become a pilot, I will be living my dad’s dream.”
Even if he doesn’t get accepted into the academy, he said will keep striving to become a pilot.
“Life isn’t always fun, and things don’t always come easy, but the Air Force has been the best decision I have made,” Adeboyejo said. “I feel I’m part of something bigger.”