DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – A Miami Valley couple will get the recognition they never asked for as they’re honored at Thursday’s Dayton Dragons game.
Marriage counselors beat the same drum. Couples need to communicate, talking about work is a good place to start which was always a very brief conversation for Air Force officers Dan and Nicole Powers.
“It usually goes like this. ‘Honey, how was your day? Good. How was your day? Good. That’s basically how you talk about your day,” Nicole said.
And this was completely normal, healthy and necessary for these career Air Force officers. You see Nicole was in intelligence and Dan was in counter-intelligence.
“One of the jokes we have is, she’s point. I’m counter-point,” Dan said.
Neither dreamt of living in the world of sensitive information. Dan certainly did not. He was focused on pigskin going to Kansas State University to play football with designs of being a coroner.
Nicole was certain hotel management was her calling following Connie Seleka’s lead from the show “Hotel” until she felt another calling.
Nicole said, “I just had a calling. I know people say that a lot… where you just want to be part of something bigger than yourself, part of that community, and that’s what I wanted.”
She found that in the ROTC at Bowling Green State University. After an injury cut Dan’s football career short he found his need for teamwork and discipline in the ROTC as well. Then they found each other years later in Iraq.
“I was actually coming back from a night mission about 6:30 in the morning,” said Dan. “I see this little thing popping 10-12 foot jump shots, never missing. I said, ‘I have to challenge her’ and she kicked my butt.”
Nicole said, “I was challenged and I accepted that challenge… and I won… in more ways than one.”
Both are well-decorated for careers that include many deployments to hot-spots in Afghanistan and throughout the Middle East and southwestern Asia.
Dan also has the coveted Bronze Star from his years as a special agent in OSI but good luck getting him to pat himself on the back.
The same is true for Nicole. Both side-stepping personal glory for something much bigger and that is why Dan’s son-in-law nominated both for selfless service to their country.
Dan said, “To me, it’s taking care of the mission. For me to get closure for someone, whether it’s a victim or another country or whatnot, making sure that the investigation is complete and making sure it’s done right.”
Nicole said, “Now, I’m going to get emotional… my troops… being able to be a good mentor and role model to the airmen that I served with. Just being able to help other people and make a difference in their lives.”
Dan retired as a Lieutenant Colonel nearly 6 years ago admitting he misses the action and chaos. Now he’s flipping houses and enjoying being a granddad and plenty of time on the golf course where the competitive fire that led to the not-so-pretty game of “horse” in Iraq is rekindled on the links.
Nicole said, “We have chipping contests (to) see who can get closest to the pin or things like that, or if we’re on the driving range we do that.”
The competitive fire between this power couple is still there. So is that calling for Nicole. A Lieutenant Colonel herself at NASIC with a couple of years until she retires. Already knowing what she will miss when she takes off the battle dress uniform for the last time.
“The comradery that you have… there is a bond between brothers and sisters that I don’t think you find anywhere else,” said Nicole.