Rota native Lee Ted R. San Nicolas completed his training at Pensacola’s Naval Air Station in Warrington, Florida, last month. Better known as NAS Pensacola, the air station is considered by many as the “cradle of naval aviation” in the United States.
San Nicolas was sent to NAS Pensacola after completing his Air Force training in Alabama as a staff sergeant, graduating as a commissioned officer of the United States Air Force as a 2nd lieutenant last year. His training heavily focused on military aircraft flying courses, something he said “is the hardest program I have ever been a part of.”
The application process to attend the training school was an arduous three-month endeavor, according to San Nicolas.
“Once you determine where you would like to begin, you go through a system of background, physical, educational, medical, and security checks to determine if you are eligible for Officer Training School. The process is long, tedious, and very selective, different than the enlisted route,” he said.
After years of training, San Nicolas will now be working as a combat systems officer, with expertise in the field of navigation, weapons systems employment, and electronic welfare operations.
Before venturing off to the mainland, San Nicholas received his early childhood education at Eskuelan San Fransisco De Borja and Grace Christian Academy on Rota, graduating with numerous accolades.
In 2003, he moved to Guam and attended Father Duenas Memorial High School, living with his Uncle Francisco and Auntie Ofelia Atalig. In the infancy of his sophomore year, San Nicolas matriculated at Sunset High School in Beaverton, Oregon and graduated. San Nicolas also holds a bachelor’s degree in Criminology from Portland State University.
His love for service was solidified when he volunteered and became a corrections tech officer at Washington Community Corrections.
“My position allowed me to assist and help probation and parole officers with their many cases which included paperwork, contacting clients, or going to court. Upon accumulating enough experience, I was fortunate enough to be given the privilege of supervising a small group of 25 clients. I left the position once I found out I has been accepted into the Air Force’s Officer Training School in September,” he said.
With his completion of pilot training, San Nicolas earned his “Wings and Aircraft” and joined the Air Force’s elite group of combat systems officers, comprising less then 1,200 individuals. He will now be flying an RC-135 aircraft at Air Force Base in Nebraska.
San Nicholas said he discovered more about himself through his training and studies.
“Integrity is integral and crucial if you want to be successful. Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is looking. If you stand by this, you will succeed,” he explained. “ I have grown so much both professionally and personally during my time in Pensacola. I have learned that you cannot take criticism personally if you want to move forward. Take criticism as a learning point and do better next time.”
He credits his success to his parents, Timothy San Nicolas and Adelia R. San Nicolas.
“Despite growing up on a small island, you can accomplish bigger and greater things if you put your mind into it with dedication and hard work,” he added.