Retired Aug. 1, 1968. Died May 5, 1998.
Roy Willard Nelson Jr., was born in Tacoma, Wash., in 1916, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Roy W. Nelson, Sr., now living in Seattle. After graduating from Lincoln High School in Seattle in 1934, he entered the University of Washington in 1935. After completing a year of study there, he was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., from which he graduated in 1940.
He was commissioned a second lieutenant on June 11, 1940. After receiving his pilot's wings at Stockton, Calif., he returned to school, studying meteorology for a year at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
During World War II, he served in the Mediterranean theater of operations as staff weather officer to the North African Coastal Command and to the 15th Air Force from its activation until V-E Day. For his wartime service, General Nelson was awarded the French Croix de Guerre and the Order of the British Empire, as well as the Legion of Merit. He also holds the Army Commendation Medal.
In 1947, he was transferred to Guam, where he commanded the 514th Reconnaissance Squadron, Very Long Range, Weather, which was one of the first B-29 weather reconnaissance squadrons. In January 1948, he became deputy commander of the 43d Weather Wing in Tokyo, Japan.
In December 1949, he returned from the Far East to attend the Armed Forces Staff College, from which he graduated in June 1950. Reassigned to Air Weather Service headquarters, he served as director of plans and organization until August 1951, when he became Air Weather Service chief of staff.
In the fall of that year, General Nelson was named commander of Military Air Transport Service activities for Operation Ivy, nuclear bomb tests in the Pacific. Upon his return, in December 1952, he became the first commander of the newly activated 9th Weather Group at Andrews Air Force Base, Md.
In 1955, General Nelson left to attend the National War College and, upon his graduation, went to Europe to command the 2d Weather Wing at Wiesbaden, Germany, thus becoming staff weather officer for the U.S. Air Forces in Europe. The 2d Weather Wing, one of four Air Force weather wings, has units throughout Europe and in North Africa and the Middle East.
In July 1960, General Nelson returned to the United States to become vice commander of the Air Weather Service. On March 15, 1963, he assumed command of the Air Weather Service, becoming the tenth officer to command the global weather service since its transfer to the Air Force in 1947.
General Nelson is a command pilot and a professional member of the American Meteorological Society.