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The magic of resiliency

Airman 1st Class Christian Watson, 90th Missile Security Forces Squadron, performs a magic trick for Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein, Task Force 214 and 20th Air Force commander; and assembled guests April 27, 2015. Watson learned magic at a young age and used it as a way to stay resilient in tough times. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lan Kim)

Airman 1st Class Christian Watson, 90th Missile Security Forces Squadron, performs a magic trick for Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein, Task Force 214 and 20th Air Force commander; and assembled guests April 27, 2015. Watson learned magic at a young age and used it as a way to stay resilient in tough times. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lan Kim)

Airman 1st Class Christian Watson and Airman Katie Pluim, 90th Missile Security Forces Squadron, perform a security sweep around a missile alert facility April 27, 2015. Watson overcame many obstacles, including a language barrier, to succeed and grow as a security forces Airman. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lan Kim)

Airman 1st Class Christian Watson and Airman Katie Pluim, 90th Missile Security Forces Squadron, perform a security sweep around a missile alert facility April 27, 2015. Watson overcame many obstacles, including a language barrier, to succeed and grow as a security forces Airman. (U.S. Air Force photo by Lan Kim)

F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- With a deck of cards in his hands, he can wow any audience. His fast fingers and sleight-of-hand tricks have amazed many in the 90th Missile Wing.

"I don't know how he does it," said Col. Tracey Hayes, 90th MW commander. "It's amazing to watch."

The magic of card tricks has helped Airman 1st Class Christian Watson remain resilient through tough times, but he has also learned the magic of camaraderie can be a powerful motivator.

In 2014, Watson enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. At the time, he was only fluent in Tagalog and did not speak much English. The language barrier made Basic Military Training an even tougher challenge.

"When I first arrived, I had no one to talk to," he said. "I decided it was time to step up, break away from my shyness, and start talking to my flight."

Though Watson struggled, his flight never gave up on him, helping him learn and understand what he needed in order to succeed. 

The true test of flight unity came when Watson was preparing to take his final BMT examination. Watson had failed the test twice already, and was getting ready for his third and final attempt.

"My flight came up and told me: 'We are not going to graduate without you,'" he said. "That motivated me to work harder and study more. When I took my third test, I passed with an 86."

After graduating BMT and completing technical training in security forces, Watson now defends the country's combat-ready ICBM force as a member of the 90th Missile Security Forces Squadron here. 

His journey to this point has been challenging and difficult to say the least, but his parents instilled in him a sense of gratitude at an early age.  

"Even though we didn't have a lot of money, we were grateful for what we had," Watson said.

Watson's cousin would teach him magic tricks to help pass the time. When things got tough, Watson would practice his tricks, building his resiliency as well as increasing his talents.

Tragedy struck Watson when he lost both his parents within a short timespan right before his 14th birthday.  A few years later, a relative who lived in the U.S. adopted him and his younger brother.

"It took two years for the paperwork to be finished, and then we moved to the U.S.," Watson said.

Watson arrived in San Francisco, California in 2010, where he later graduated high school and took a few college classes before enlisting in the Air Force. 

"It was hard for me to study because my English skills were not that good," he said. "It took a lot of studying to pass my classes. I learned a lot but I still didn't speak English much. I was still too shy to speak in class, so I wasn't able to practice. That changed when I went to Basic Military Training."

Though things have been far from easy, Watson continues to remain resilient not only through his magic, but also through the strength that comes in numbers from his brothers and sisters in arms.

"My experiences have helped me succeed because I know life can be hard. I remember that every day," he said. "They encourage me to constantly do my best and to strive to be better at my job."