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Meet Your Military: Airman's Service Helps to Unite His Family

support our troops us airmans family reunitesPHOTO: Air Force Airman 1st Class Nana Sefa is deployed to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, from Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. Following this deployment, Sefa, a native of Ghana, will see his wife after two years apart. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Being away from family is nothing new to Air Force Airman 1st Class Nana Sefa. The 455th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle management analysis craftsman deployed here for six months from Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, said he understands that being away from family is difficult, as he has experienced separation his entire life. Sefa grew up in Ghana. When he was 4 years old, his father left to go to America. After his father was gone, Sefa said, he constantly moved around Ghana, taking turns living with his mother and his grandparents and at boarding schools. “It was tough not having my mom around sometimes, especially when I was a kid,” he said. “I remember wanting to leave with her when I lived with my grandparents. I would not want to fall asleep, afraid that she would leave when I did. The next day when I woke up, I would always ask my grandparents for her.”

Although it was difficult moving around, Sefa said, he learned to overcome being away from his mother, sister and father. At 19, after graduating from boarding school, he learned that his father was hoping Sefa and his sister would come to live with him in California. Back with family “After boarding school, I was finally able to be home with my mom,” Sefa said. “We were having the opportunity to get to know each other more. Then, after graduation, my father filed for my sister and me to move with him to the U.S.

I was excited, because I hadn’t seen him for a while, but at the same time, I was sad because I was leaving my mom and girlfriend.” In 2010, Sefa and his sister made the journey to be with their father. Immediately after arriving, he started working to pay for his college education. He learned to play American football and quickly adapted to a new way of life. After a few months in his new home, Sefa said, he had saved enough money to return to Ghana to visit his mother and girlfriend. During his short stay in Ghana, Sefa and his girlfriend, who would later become his wife, made the decision to attempt a long-distance relationship.

Sefa wouldn’t see his girlfriend until two years later. “We kept in touch, either on Facebook or phone calls,” said Sefa. “We had a lot of trust in our relationship, and because [of] what I had gone through with my mom, I understood how to deal with being apart.” Citizenship through service Eventually, Sefa said, he decided to join the Air Force to help the process of becoming a U.S. citizen and because he’d always been interested in the military, having been part of the cadet program in his boarding school. After signing the enlistment paperwork, he said, he again made the journey to Ghana to tell his future wife of his plans. “When I visited home in 2012, my family was very excited to see me after two years of being away,” Sefa said. “I knew I was joining the Air Force and that I would be able to take care of my girlfriend, so I went ahead and asked her to marry me. I proposed and married her during my visit.” Sefa returned to America for Air Force basic training and technical school, and his wife remained in Ghana. Not long after he arrived at Holloman, his first duty station, he was tasked for deployment. “A few months after I arrived to Holloman, I was able to finally get my citizenship,” Sefa said. “Then, shortly after, I was told I was going to deploy. While I was deployed, my wife finally was able to get her green card and travel to New Mexico this past July.” Seeing his wife only twice over the last four years was a long struggle, the airman acknowledged, but he said trust and understanding made his relationship strong.

“Sometimes it was hard being away from my wife,” he said, “but she was very understanding. All she needed from me was reassurance that I was thinking about her.” Service before self Though being away from his wife is difficult, Sefa declined the opportunity to curtail his deployment to finish his mission and time in Afghanistan. “Airman Sefa exemplifies our core value of service before self,” said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jeffery Brown, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing command chief. “Despite the potential to return home early, he expressed his desire to stay and finish the mission. Sefa also demonstrated our core value of excellence in all we do.” On his own accord, the chief said, Sefa has taken on a role and responsibility normally reserved for a noncommissioned officer. “He has proven his work ethic and warrior ethos,” Brown added. Joining the military almost guarantees periods of separation from family. But Sefa noted that his service is the best thing he has done to help unite his newly formed family, because it allowed him to become a citizen and to bring his wife to America. As he approaches the end of his deployment, Sefa said, he will finally have a place to call home. “When I get back, we will celebrate our two-year anniversary,” he said. “We might have a wedding, since we didn’t have a big celebration. I am also trying to get my mom to move out here, and then our family will all be together.”

Written Sept. 4, 2014 By: Air Force Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez 455th Air Expeditionary Wing

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