Retired Aug. 1, 1994.
Lieutenant General Michael A. Nelson is commander, 9th Air Force and U.S. Central Command Air Forces, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.
General Nelson was born in 1937, in East Los Angeles, Calif., and graduated from Alamo Heights Senior High School, San Antonio, in 1955. He earned a bachelor's degree in international relations from Stanford University in 1959 and a master's degree in comparative politics from the University of Arizona in 1969. He completed Squadron Officer School in 1967, Air Command and Staff College In 1972, and National War College in 1976.
In June 1959, after receiving his commission through the Reserve Officer Training Corps program, he entered the Air Force and completed pilot training in September 1960 at Laredo Air Force Base, Texas. In September 1961, after F-100 training, he was assigned as a pilot with the 493rd Tactical Fighter Squadron, 48th Tactical Fighter Wing, Royal Air Force Station Lakenheath, England.
In August 1965 the general returned to the United States and was assigned as an F-100 instructor pilot with the 4515th Combat Crew Training Squadron, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. From July 1967 to July 1968 General Nelson was a member of the Tactical Air Warfare Center's Anti-Surface-to-Air Missile Combat Assistance Team, Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand. There he worked on fighter electronic warfare and also flew F-105s with the 333rd Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, completing 100 combat missions over North Vietnam.
After completing his master's degree in 1969, General Nelson was assigned as operations and plans adviser to the Korean air force in Seoul from October 1969 to June 1971. He then attended Air Command and Staff College, graduating In May 1972. In June 1972 he returned to the 355th, which had transferred to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. There he served successively as an A-7 instructor pilot, chief of wing scheduling and operations officer, and commander of the 358th Tactical Fighter Squadron.
Upon graduation from National War College In August 1976, he was assigned to the Directorate of Plans, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., first as chief of the Europe-NATO Division, then as an Air Force planner in the Deputy Directorate for Joint and National Security Matters. From April 1979 to March 1981 he was commander of the 21st Tactical Fighter Wing, Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. General Nelson then served as director for operations, Headquarters U.S. Pacific Command, Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii. In June 1983 he was assigned as commander of the 313th Air Division, Kadena Air Base, Japan, and in July 1984 he became commander of 13th Air Force, Pacific Air Forces, Clark Air Base, Philippines.
General Nelson returned to Air Force headquarters in June 1985 as deputy inspector general. He subsequently moved to Ramstein Air Base, West Germany, where he became chief of staff, U.S. Air Forces in Europe. In July 1987 he was assigned as assistant chief of staff for operations, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, Mons, Belgium. He became commander of the Sheppard Technical Training Center, Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, in July 1989. In January 1991 he again returned to Air Force headquarters as deputy chief of staff, plans and operations. He assumed his current command in June 1992.
The general is a command pilot with more than 3,000 flying hours in the F-100, F-105, A-7, F-4 and F-15. His military awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with 10 oak leaf clusters, and Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster.
He was promoted to lieutenant general Feb. 9,1991, with same date of rank.