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Jun 5 2021

Meet Lieutenant Colonel Pierpaolo Uniti

My name is Pierpaolo UNITI and I was born in July ’79 in a small and beautiful city in the southern part of Italy called Sant’Agata de’Goti. I’m 41 years-old, married since the 2004 with Rossella and we have a beautiful 9 year-old girl, named Maryam. We chose to have one child because we think that two is too much but one is not enough, so we also have a cat, a dog, 5 turtles, a wild canary and an aquarium.  

I proudly serve in the Italian Air Force with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

If I try to summarize myself in three words, I’d choose loyal, generous and “pagliaccio” (the Italian word for clown) which is my callsign since the Air Force Academy and I really don’t know why…

I normally spend my free time with my family, and I like to practice outdoor activities. Thanks to the beautiful weather in Portugal, I had a chance to rediscover my passion to play beach volley and I started to practice surf, for now I’m just good at floating. Anyway, it is always a good excuse to go freeze in the Ocean, no matter the season or the temperature.

For sure I don’t’ have skills in the kitchen, but recently, thanks also to the wood oven that my wife bought for me, I discovered that I’m very good at baking pizza (without pineapple!!!). My wife is really happy about it, especially when she has to clean the mess that I leave behind.

41 years is the perfect age to take first stock of what I have done so far. Looking back, there is nothing that I did that I would change. I’m satisfied about my job and as Italian, our common word is passion, and it is what I put in it. About my personal life, my best achievement up to now is my lovely daughter, Maryam.

Even in my family, there is no heritage in military service. As a kid, I was attracted by this world and this life. I still remember when I told my parents my intention to join the Air Force and the doubt in their faces. Nowadays, I think they are proud of me.

Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, most young people fell in love with military aviation thanks to the movie Top Gun, but this is not my case. I was already fascinated with airplanes. At the age of 11, they turned into my passion when I saw the Italian Tornado involved in Operation Locusta, the contribution of the Italian Air Force to Operation Desert Shield. For me, the aircrews of these airplanes were like heroes, and I think, thanks to them, years later I decided to join the Air Force as a Navigator with the objective to fly on the Tornado. Unfortunately, I was only able to partially fulfill this dream.

After 22 years since I crossed the gate of the Italian Air Force Academy, it is difficult to envision myself without wearing my blue uniform. Continuing to speak about passion, because I like machinery in general, probably my civilian “version” could be an engineer or a car designer.

I also think that for my wife it is difficult to imagine me as a civilian. We met in 99’, the same summer that I joined the Air Force. We have always been a “military” family, and we are happy about it. Thanks to my job, we all have the opportunities to have exciting experiences and live in a multicultural environment.

At 41 years, I’m still a young airman with a bit of rust. Looking back over my entire career, the most memorable experience was my first flight as a student navigator. It was the fall of ’99 and the airplane was the SIAI MARCHETTI SF260. It lasted about 45 minutes. My stomach also still has fresh memories about this flight and the aerobatic maneuvers that the instructor performed.

Since the summer of ’99, several years have passed. Now, I’m not only an officer, I’m one of the staff members of STRIKFORNATO - my professional family has grown beyond the borders of my country. Now, I’m part of an organization that has all the tools to make this world better and ensure peace and stability to our Partners and Allies.

Now, more than ever, I can say “WE ARE NATO”!

Story by Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO

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