From Australia to American Airman
By Senior Airman Colby L. Hardin, 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 22, 2016
MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- As a young Australian boy, Capt. Nathaniel Beer, 384th Air Refueling Squadron pilot, had a passion for flying.
Born in Perth, Australia, Beer knew that he wanted to control an aircraft. When he was just six years old, he found his passion as a pilot. On a family visit to Melbourne, the pilots allowed children to check out the flight deck to see what made the plane fly.
"I knew once I saw all of the switches and lights that I wanted to fly," said Beer. "And ever since then, I wanted to be a pilot."
A couple years prior to moving to the U.S., his family took a trip visiting different countries around the world in search of a new place to call home and ended up liking the U.S. the most.
Fortunately, Beer's mother, who was a nurse, had a green card, and there was a shortage of nurses in the U.S. With his mother's green card, Beer and his family moved from Perth, Australia, to Denver in 1999 when he was just 14 years old. The emergence made an immediate impact on Beer and how different he saw things.
The move meant Beer had to adapt to a new way of life.
"I grew up going to an all-boys catholic school where you had to wear uniforms," said Beer. "When I got here, finding something to wear everyday was one of the hardest things to me."
The food was no longer the same, and he and his family struggled to find authentic Australian cuisine.
"When we got here, we heard about Outback Steakhouse. We assumed that they would serve lamingtons, beef pies and things like that," Beer added. "But it was only Australian themed, and decorated, so we were a little disappointed."
After being in the states for a while, Beer started to venture out to find more Australians and events related to his culture.
It has been almost 10 years since he has been back to visit his home in Australia but every year members of the Australian and New Zealand community in Denver celebrate Anzac Day on April 25. During this event, Beer and other military members participate as a part of the Australian color guard team.
It was never Beer's plan to join the Air Force. He only knew that one way or another, he was going to fly.
"If you asked me what my plans were in college, I would have never said to join the U.S. Air Force." said Beer.
Beer knew he had better opportunities to learn how to fly and get his pilot's license here in the U.S. instead of going back and trying to learn in Australia.
While attending the University of Colorado, Boulder, he participated in the Civil Air Patrol and received his commission through the ROTC program at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
With approximately six years left on his current commitment, Beer has yet to decide if he will be going back to Australia to become a commercial airline pilot or stay here in the U.S.
"I've always considered going back because I miss my family," Beer added. "That's where I'm from, so it will always be my home."
Beer has always wanted to travel as a kid and the Air Force gave him that chance.
"Australians are usually travelers so of course that's what I've always wanted to do," said Beer. "The Air Force provided me with a great opportunity to travel the world. It would make it hard to just leave and go back home to Australia."