Nick Daddona

Nick Daddona grew up angry. Though he knew his adoptive parents loved him, Daddona felt rejected by the woman who had given him up for adoption.

“I was born to a Native American Mohawk woman,” he says. Terrified and ashamed to speak to anyone about her pregnancy, she left her reservation for Syracuse, N.Y., and took him to an orphanage, Daddona explains.

Adopted at six months of age, he was raised in south Florida. “My new parents never hid the fact that they could not have children and they needed to adopt,” he says. Both of his sisters have different biological parents and come from different backgrounds. “We were all one family.”

Despite the loving environment, Daddona wasn’t happy. “I grew up with a lot of anger issues and resentment,” he adds. “I always felt, ‘Why was I given up for adoption?’ and wondered if I was unlovable. I knew that I was loved, but I had nagging questions in my heart.”

Daddona embarked on what he describes as a journey of “anger and frustration.” He decided his best bet was to sign up for the military and worry about finding his biological mother later. At age 18, he joined the U.S. Navy.

“I always wanted to be a police officer,” Daddona remembers, “not because I believed in justice, but because I wanted to have authority — and if it meant hurting people, then that was even better.”

However, working in the naval military police was not to be. “The U.S. Navy requires you to be a higher pay grade to take on that job,” he explains. Instead, Daddona was offered a position with naval intelligence, where he thrived.

“I took the test and had a top-secret clearance with the U.S. government. I did that for a time, but found that it was too hectic and not where I wanted to be.”

Daddona transferred to the U.S. Air Force, where he was able to realize his dream of becoming a police officer. “I trained police K-9 units, both dogs and handlers,” he says.