The son of Cuban-American refugees, Nick Perdomo Jr. joined the Navy to become an air traffic controller and got more than he bargained for. His Navy experience led to a job with the Federal Aviation Administration and influenced him in starting Perdomo Cigars, one of the world’s largest cigar-makers. Here’s his story.
There was never any doubt about what I’d do when I finished high school. Enlisting in the Navy was what I wanted, and becoming an air traffic controller had been my goal since the age of 14. Growing up in Miami in a Cuban-American family, I looked on military service as a patriotic duty. So in August 1983, three months after graduation, I signed up. My family couldn’t have been more proud.
Achieving my goals became a habit. After finishing boot camp at the U.S. Naval Training Center at Great Lakes, Illinois, I went to air traffic controller’s A-school, then located in Millington, Tennessee. After completing my training, I was assigned to the Naval Air Station at Jacksonville, Florida, which serves the Naval Station complex at Mayport.