HomeNewsFeaturesDisplay

Highest highs, lowest lows: Hanscom Airman shares personal story of resiliency

Tech. Sgt. Corey Nowell, noncommissioned officer in charge of movement support at the Joint Personal Property Shipping Office Northeast, sits at his desk at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., Feb. 21, 2020. Nowell shares his personal story of resilience in battling depression and overcoming his professional and personal obstacles in hopes to inspire his wingmen to seek help. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mark Herlihy)

Tech. Sgt. Corey Nowell, noncommissioned officer in charge of movement support at the Joint Personal Property Shipping Office Northeast, sits at his desk at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., Feb. 21, 2020. Nowell shares his personal story of resilience in battling depression and overcoming his professional and personal obstacles in hopes to inspire his wingmen to seek help. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mark Herlihy)

Tech. Sgt. Corey Nowell, noncommissioned officer in charge of movement support at the Joint Personal Property Shipping Office Northeast, is reflected in his security forces shadow box at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., Feb. 21, 2020. Nowell enlisted in the Air Force at 18 years old as a security forces defender but retrained as a traffic manager following a car accident that resulted in a level-2 concussion. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mark Herlihy)

Tech. Sgt. Corey Nowell, noncommissioned officer in charge of movement support at the Joint Personal Property Shipping Office Northeast, is reflected in his security forces shadow box at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., Feb. 21, 2020. Nowell enlisted in the Air Force at 18 years old as a security forces defender but retrained as a traffic manager following a car accident that resulted in a level-2 concussion. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mark Herlihy)

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. (AFNS) -- Paths through life can be treacherous. Winding, slippery and uncertain, obstacles along the way can derail a journey completely and stop it in its tracks.

Tech. Sgt. Corey Nowell, noncommissioned officer in charge of movement support at the Joint Personal Property Shipping Office Northeast, has forged his own roadmap from his failures and achievements.

His paternal grandmother, Gladys, raised him in Miami. Both of his parents suffered from addiction to crack cocaine and navigating the inner-city streets was a challenge when he was a young boy.

“There were gangs and the whole drug scene,” Nowell said. “I never got involved with any of that because I never wanted to disappoint my grandmother.”

Nowell’s childhood included extracurricular activities like sports and orchestra, and he was a stellar student. Just before he graduated high school, his armed services aptitude test scores caught the eye of his local recruiter.

With his grandmother’s support, he joined the Air Force at 18 years of age as a security forces defender and received his first assignment to Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana. It was there he received his first major blow.

“I was completely culture shocked when I got there,” he said. “There were no skyscrapers, no beaches and definitely not the diversity that I was so used to in the city.”

One night, while Nowell was a designated driver for his friends, another Airman yelled racial slurs at him from across the parking lot and a fight broke out.

“I wanted to make sure he would never use that word again,” he said.

As the investigation unfolded, Nowell’s verdict was in: he received an Article 15 and lost two strips, demoting him from E-4, senior Airman, to E-2, Airman.

He was feeling defeated and tired and was ready to hang up his uniform, until something clicked, and lit his spark again.

“I decided then that I would conquer anything that came my way,” he said. “If you needed a floor mopped, I would be the best mopper you’d ever seen. Being able to bounce back is what made me, me.”

Nowell tackled his extra duties, took on extra classes and continued to excel in his career development courses. In just a few weeks, his commander promoted him back to E-3, Airman 1st class.

“(The commander) told me, ‘people like you help other people make it,’” Nowell said.

Nowell had triumphed through his first major setback as an adult. With his new sense of self and accountability, he felt ready to take on whatever obstacles would come his way.

Nevertheless, just as he got over one challenge, another would follow.

A collision with a drunk driver left him with a level-2 concussion and chronic migraines, forcing him out of security forces.

The final blow came in 2011, when his grandmother, Gladys, passed away.

“I didn’t know where to go, or who to talk to, and I just couldn’t handle it,” he said. “All I could think was that if she was in heaven, then I wanted to be there too.”

With everything up to that point, he had had enough.

On an afternoon, while his then second wife was at work, he went to his closet and opened the safe where he kept two firearms.

“I decided that I couldn’t do life anymore,” he said. “I went out to the balcony and put it to my head, and I pulled the trigger.”

Click.

“Nothing happened,” he said. “I reloaded it and shot it into the air, and boom, it went off, so I reloaded and put it back to my head.”

Click.

“It jammed again.”

Nowell said the next thing he remembered was his wife coming home, finding him in tears on the living room floor, and frantically dialing friends and coworkers to help.

At his lowest moment, he knew his friends and family would be devastated if he had succeeded, but the despair was too much to handle. He began his recovery in inpatient care and said he began to see things clearly again.

“If you really feel like there’s no other way out, you have to reach out to someone,” he said. “Give someone the opportunity to help you; don’t make that decision for them.”

Today, Nowell is living what he calls his “second chance.”

He found purpose in volunteerism, working with at-risk youth in the Greater Boston communities. He is the first member in his family’s generation to earn a college degree and is currently working toward his master’s.

At Hanscom AFB, he supervises more than 10 Airmen and civilians and works each day to make sure they understand that any setback can be overcome.

“It’s okay to make mistakes, and it’s important to hold yourself accountable,” he said. “But you can’t hang it over your head forever and feel like you can’t recover. Everything is recoverable.”

Nowell said the military instills the idea that perception is reality, but works to look at his wingmen and their struggles objectively.

“If you have to punish someone, there’s no reason to continue to beat him or her down,” he said. “Don’t judge them, pull them in closer and find out what’s going on.”

“Our goal should always be to help each other reach our fullest potential.”

Engage

Twitter
The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center is sponsoring a research project with the @WitchitaState's National Inst… https://t.co/r1SZzmLUGo
Twitter
.@NellisAFB recently hosted an #AirForce Weapons School Integration exercise that taught graduate-level instructor… https://t.co/sdRcG9Tqle
Twitter
Industry and government operators, engineers, and test professionals assessed the ability to do medical evacuation,… https://t.co/GosqQbx3Ac
Twitter
RT @AirNatlGuard: As part of the @UTNationalGuard's state partnership with Morocco, @UtahAirGuard Airmen are taking part in African Lion 21…
Twitter
“This office is the first organization that will stand-up from an enterprise-wide perspective to address digital ne… https://t.co/94P7CNFxGj
Twitter
"Multi-capable #Airmen is a series of training events designed to engage Airmen in developing a combat skillset out… https://t.co/7b4VFMb9cm
Twitter
"I'm probably not the first to be qualified, but the first to have the opportunity." @GenCQBrownJr sat down with… https://t.co/vh14QdB6sp
Twitter
#CitizenAirmen from the 30th Aerial Port Squadron & @AFRC_433, loaded supplies onto a C-5 Galaxy, to deliver suppli… https://t.co/MDSVEtQbZm
Twitter
.@59_MDW medics assisted a hospital in #Honduras during Exercise Resolute Sentinel 21, where they performed life-ch… https://t.co/DRGyg4NOhL
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: A/SecAF Roth at today's SAC-D hearing: "Our nation’s competitive strategic advantage relies on air and space superiority…
Twitter
To maintain open lines of communication with #AirForce allies and African partners, CMSgt Brion Blais, @HQUSAFEAFAFhttps://t.co/4nGOtWJnLp
Twitter
“I can help [#Airmen] and prepare them for the challenges they’ll face as NCO’s; everything I’ve encountered has pr… https://t.co/YT3x1UjGFU
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: A/SecAF Roth is speaking now on the future capabilities the Department requires to protect the Nation--including the Gro…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Defense is asking A/SecAF Roth about investments to modernize the @USAirForce
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Acting Secretary of the Air Force John Roth’s comments today while addressing the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subc…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Acting Secretary of the Air Force John Roth’s comments today while addressing the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subc…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Acting Secretary of the Air Force John Roth’s comments today while addressing the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subc…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Acting Secretary of the Air Force John Roth’s comments today while addressing the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subc…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Acting Secretary of the Air Force John Roth’s comments today while addressing the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subc…
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,346,280
Follow Us