Retired Feb. 1, 1991.
Major General Eric B. Nelson is the Air Force program executive officer for command, control and communication (C3) programs, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass.
General Nelson was born in 1935, in New York City. He earned a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering from New York University in 1956 and master's degrees in business administration from Auburn University, and astronautics from the Air Force Institute of Technology. He completed the Air War College in 1978.
He received his commission through the Reserve Officer Training Corps program and then completed pilot training at Spence Air Base, Ga., and Bryan Air Force Base, Texas. He completed advanced fighter-interceptor training at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., in 1958. The general served with the 324th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, Sidi Slimane Air Base, Morocco, until 1960, when he became an intercept controller with the 603rd Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron at Texarkana Air Force Station, Ark. In 1961, with 11 others, he started Aerospace Defense Command's 1st Aerospace Control Squadron, chartered with the responsibility of detecting and identifying all space objects.
After receiving his master's degree from the Air Force Institute of Technology, he was assigned to the 9th Aerospace Defense Division, Ent Air Force Base, Colo., in charge of a major upgrade and checkout of the Air Force's spacetrack system. In 1967 General Nelson transferred to the 354th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, and flew 100 combat missions in F-105s over North Vietnam. Upon his return to the United States in 1968, he was assigned as an assistant and associate professor of mathematics at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo. In 1974 he was assigned to Aeronautical Systems Division, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, as chief of its Information Engineering Division, its center of expertise for avionics computer hardware, software and controls and displays.
Upon graduation from the Air War College in 1978, General Nelson was assigned to the Electronic Systems Division, Hanscom Air Force Base. After a tour of duty as director of computer systems engineering, he served as Air Force deputy program manager for the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System. In 1979 he became the system program director for advanced tactical communication systems. The general was chief of staff, Headquarters Air Force Systems Command, Andrews Air Force Base, Md., from 1981 until July 1984. He then became deputy chief of staff for plans and programs, and in January 1987 was assigned as deputy chief of staff for systems. He returned to Hanscom as vice commander of the Electronic Systems Division in October 1987, and assumed his present position in February 1990.
The general is a command pilot. His military awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with 10 oak leaf clusters, and Air Force Commendation Medal with four oak leaf clusters.
He was promoted to major general Aug. 1, 1987, with same date of rank.