JAMES R. NELSON

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NELSON JAMES RICHARD NELSON James Richard Nelson ("Mike") died peacefully at home on December 22, 2012. He was 88 years old. Born in Lawton, Oklahoma, in 1924 as the son of an Army aviator and a Missouri farm girl, he followed a career in aviation that included positions as Air Force pilot, government engineer, and international diplomat. He graduated from West Point on D-Day, June 6, 1944 and retired from the military as an Air Force Lieutenant Colonel in 1967. He later worked for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), served as a UN advisor to Turkey and represented the US at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). He started his military career as US Army Air Corps flight instructor before serving in Germany at the end of WW II where he participated in the Berlin Airlift. Upon returning to the USA, he married his West Point sweetheart, Mildred Martinetion, who joined him on subsequent Air Force assignments in Waco, Panama City, Ann Arbor, Cape Canaveral, Montgomery, and Washington, DC. During his military service, Colonel Nelson earned an MS in aeronautical engineering from the University of Michigan in 1953 and worked as a flight engineer in the early space program at Cape Canaveral. Although his specialty was flying large cargo aircraft, he was qualified as a fighter pilot and a helicopter pilot. He also graduated from the Air Force Command and Staff College in 1959 and Air War College in 1964 as a distinguished graduate, both in Montgomery, Alabama. He later served in the Pentagon in the 1960s and continued to fly until he retired in 1967. At that time, he joined the FAA as a technical program manager to develop all weather landing systems for commercial aircraft. From 1972 to 1975, Colonel Nelson worked in Ankara, Turkey, as a UN advisor to support Turkish aviation. Later, he served as a US representative to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Montreal, Canada as an SES-2 before retiring to Wolfeboro, NH in 1982. Despite his notable career, Mike always said his greatest happiness came from Mildred, his wife of 54 years. The daughter of Ukrainian immigrants living in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Mildred Nelson made her own dresses to attend West Point dances where she met her future husband. Together they raised and are survived by three sons, Douglas of Manassas, VA, Steven of Arlington, VA and James of Wolfeboro, NH. Mildred preceded him in death in 2001. Colonel Nelson is also survived by two grandchildren, Kassandra and Michael, both of Virginia. Services for James Richard Nelson will be held at West Point on January 22, 2013 at 1000 hours in the Old Cadet Chapel.Despite his notable career, Mike always said his greatest happiness came from Mildred, his wife of 54 years. The daughter of Ukrainian immigrants living in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Mildred Nelson made her own dresses to attend West Point dances where she met her future husband. Together they raised and are survived by three sons, Douglas of Manassas, VA, Steven of Arlington, VA and James of Wolfeboro, NH. Mildred preceded him in death in 2001. Colonel Nelson is also survived by two grandchildren, Kassandra and Michael, both of Virginia. Services for James Richard Nelson will be held at West Point on January 22, 2013 at 1000 hours in the Old Cadet Chapel.

Published in The Washington Post on Jan. 20, 2013
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