Retired Oct. 1, 1959. Died Feb. 9, 1985.
Morris Robert Nelson was born in Corydon, Iowa, in 1901. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy June 12, 1926, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Air Service.
Entering Primary Flying School at Brooks Field, Texas, General Nelson graduated from Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field, Texas, a year later and was assigned to the 94th Pursuit Squadron at Selfridge Field, Mich. Returning to Brooks Field in October 1928 as a flying instructor at the Primary Flying School, he later became a ground school instructor there and at Randolph Field, Texas.
Going to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, in July 1933, General Nelson served as assistant group operations and supply officer, and later as squadron intelligence and 0perations officer. Moving to Barksdale Field, La., in September 1934, he assumed command of the 55th Pursuit Squadron. Entering the Air Corps Tactical School at Maxwell Field, Ala., in June 1939, he graduated two months later.
Immediately thereafter General Nelson went to Moffett Field, Calif., as operations, intelligence and public relations officer of the 20th Pursuit Group, later serving in that capacity at Hamilton Field, Calif. Transferred to the Fourth Interceptor Command at March Field, Calif., in June 1941, a short time later he became director of development of organization, tactics and technique at the Fighter Command School, Orlando Air Base, Fla.
Ordered to Air Corps Headquarters in Washington, D.C., in July 1942, General Nelson was president of the Air Defense Board and deputy director of air defense, later becoming chief of air defense. In July 1943, he went to Mitchel Field, N.Y., as chief of the Air Defense Branch and deputy chief of staff and the following January became wing commander of the Philadelphia Fighter Command, Pa.
In August 1944 General Nelson assumed command of a bomb wing in the Mediterranean Theater. Upon his return to the United States he was assigned to Air Corps headquarters, and in June 1945 he became assistant chief of staff for personnel. The general was appointed commanding general of the Panama Air Defense Wing in July 1946 (later redesignated the Sixth Fighter Wing).
Reassigned at Air Corps Headquarters in December 1947, General Nelson was named special assistant to the chief of the Special Weapons Group in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Materiel the following month, and in July 1948 assumed additional duty with the assistant deputy chief of staff, operations, for atomic energy. In August 1949, he became chief of the Special Weapons Group, and in January 1951, was appointed director of requirements in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Development.
Assuming command of the Eastern Air Defense Force, Air Defense Command, at Stewart Air Force Base, N,Y., in May 1952, General Nelson was appointed vice commander of the Continental Air Command at Mitchel Air Force Base, N.Y., on Jan. 3, 1956.
Going overseas on July 1, 1957, the general joined the Joint Brazil-U.S. Military Commission where he assumed duty as chief, Air Section, Military Assistance Advisory Group, with station at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
His decorations include the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross, and Air Medal with oak leaf cluster. He is rated a command pilot and aircraft observer.