Airman, student, father goes above, beyond in face of adversity

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Nicholas Forester when he was an enlisted F-16 Fighting Falcon maintainer. (Courtesy photograph)

The roaring sound of a B-52 flying overhead may have motivated young Nicholas Forester to one day join the Air Force, but being raised by a single father who worked all day to support his family is what motivated Nicholas to become the father he is now.

Forester, presently a new second lieutenant and future student at pilot training school, graduated from University of Nevada, Las Vegas May 18, 2019, and officially became an officer in the Air Force after commissioning through Reserve Officer Training Corps May 24, 2019.

As a tactical aircraft maintainer finishing his enlistment in 2015 at Nellis, Forester decided he would excel as an officer while providing a better life for his family.

“It was never about becoming a pilot,” said Forester, with a soft grin. “I knew when I was enlisted, I felt like I could do more for myself, my family and the Air Force. I was good at being a maintainer but I always felt I could do more.”

Forester, who hails from Bossier City, La., exhibited top performance within UNLV’s ROTC program by receiving 28 ROTC awards and being in the top 10 percent of all AFROTC graduates nationwide. Additionally, he was recognized for being one out of eight Outstanding Graduates at UNLVs spring ceremony. Outstanding Graduates exemplify the academic, research and community impact of the graduating class. This year’s graduating class consisted of more than 3,000 students.

Reserve Officer Training Corps Cadet Colonel Nicholas Forester, University of Nevada, Las Vegas graduate and future pilot training student, laughs while watching a slideshow at the Hospitality building on UNLV campus, Nev., May 24, 2019. Forester was recognized for being an Outstanding Graduate at UNLV and placed in the top 10 percent of all Air Force ROTC graduates nationwide. (Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Bryan Guthrie)

“What stood out to me about 2nd Lt. Forester was his ability to appear calm and collected in front of his peers,” said Lt. Col Corey Jewell, UNLV Detachment 004 commander. “I know he wanted to throw in the towel a few times but he never did.”

Juggling his family life, school and career was a major challenge for Forester.

On Forester’s first day at UNLV, his then-pregnant wife had a doctor’s appointment. Although he wanted to be there, she told him he couldn’t miss the first day of class. Later that day he received a dreadful call from her saying their daughter was diagnosed with spina bifida during the appointment.

“That was something very hard for me to overcome,” Forester said softly.

Forester said he contemplated reenlisting to provide for his family, but once his daughter was born he decided to push forward with school. Seeing his new daughter drove Forester to rededicate himself to his education and knock out more than 18 credits per semester.

Managing school and a part time job, Forester and his wife became certified caregivers for their daughter. They both have diligently provided the care their daughter needs since birth.

During this challenging time in his life, Forester demonstrated a set of skills which impressed those around him.

Nicholas Forester when he was an enlisted F-16 Fighting Falcon maintainer. 0Courtesy photograph

“Forester’s ability to grow as a leader and a father has shaped his life and enhanced his skills,” said Jewell. “His humbleness stands out the most because he never put himself ahead of anyone and always knew he had to trust in his fellow cadets in order to complete the mission.”

Forester’s ambition was to receive a Bachelor’s of Science in Mathematics and a minor in Aerospace studies from UNLV while participating in ROTC so that one day he could be an officer. He met and exceeded those goals by graduating as an Outstanding Graduate.

“I loved math but it required so much time and effort,” said Forester.

Forester said he spent the majority of his day focusing on his classes. Once he got home from class, he spent what little time he had left in the day with his family and concentrating on his studies.

Forester’s goals for the future are to surround himself with motivated individuals, develop a sense of family in the Air Force similar to his experience while he was enlisted and enjoy the ride.

For Forester, he wanted to rejoin his Air Force family.

Nicholas Forester when he was an enlisted F-16 Fighting Falcon maintainer. (Courtesy photograph)

“The best part about being an Airman is the people,” said Forester. “It’s the people you surround yourself with, because who you surround yourself with is eventually the person you will become. That’s why I tried to surround myself with great motivated people whenever I was enlisted and I hope to do the same when transitioning to the officer corps.”

Stepping outside his comfort zone, Forester found people that were driven and motivated so he would be set up for success.

“Don’t be afraid to take the next step and don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone because that’s where you will grow,” said Forester.

Forester will officially begin pilot training in April 2020 at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas. It has been a long road with a lot of obstacles, but no obstacle was too difficult to stop Forester from achieving his goals.