VALLEY PATRIOT OF THE MONTH – HERO IN OUR MIDST
Nelson is a retired U.S. Army officer of 24 years. he spent his first career in the U.S. Army and is now spending his second career working for Valley Works in Lawrence helping other veterans find jobs. During his speech to the North Andover residents, Nelson talked about honor, bravery, commitment, sacrifice and what it means to be a soldier. These are the values that make up a “Valley Patriot of the Month” and that is why we chose Sgt. Major Eric Nelson.
Eric Nelson was born on May 31, 1965 in Lowell and is presently attending University of Massachusetts in Lowell. He anticipates graduating in 2011. Prior to enrolling at UMass Lowell, Sgt. Major Nelson had a distinguished military career beginning in 1983 when he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He joined the Army as a Field Artillery Fire Support Specialist and trained at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
Upon completion of his training, Nelson attended Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia. He then joined the 82d Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, NC from 1884 to 1987. From 1988 to 1999 he was part of the 56th Medical Evacuation Battalion, Air Ambulance at Fort Bragg and the 3rd Military Intelligence Battalion. During that time Nelson also flew numerous combat missions in Saudi Arabia and Iraq as an Aeroscout Observer Section Sergeant during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
In 2003, Sargeant Major Nelson was an Aviation Mission Operations Manager for the 4th Aviation Brigade stationed in Baghdad, Iraq., During that mission, he trained over 300 personnel on convoy operations with no combat accidents or injuries. He also led and managed a team of 15 staff in an Operations Center responsible for assigning missions and tracking aircraft and ground vehicles throughout area of responsibility, 24 hours per day.
He developed planned, and implemented training on to track the movement of 2,000 personnel, 50 helicopters, and over 300 ground vehicles daily. Because of his outstanding contribution during this time, most notably through developing realistic training that directly influenced the combat success of the organization, Nelson was warded the Bronze Star Medal.
In 2004 Sergeant Major Nelson became a Senior Aviation Trainer and Performance Coach stationed at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Europe until 2007. During that time, he facilitated workshops in community leadership, led a team of 45 trainers and experts and coached senior leadership.
For his contributions, Nelson was awarded the Army Aviation Association of America’s Order of Saint Michael Medal for contributions in training and developing future Army aviation leadership. He was also recognized for the collaboration with multi-national forces.
In 2007, Nelson received an honorable discharge from the military and began working at Valley Works Career Center in Lawrence to help other veterans. He continues to work there as the Local Veterans Employment Representative assisting veterans to find employment.
During his military career, Nelson received numerous awards and decorations that include: Air Medal (#2), Army Commendation Medal (4 OLC), Army Achievement Medal (3 OLC), Good Conduct Medal (6th Award) National Defense Service Medal (2), Southwest Asia Service Medal (2 Bronze Service Stars), Humanitarian Service Medal (#2), NCO Professional Development Ribbon (#3), Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon (#2), Kuwait Liberation Medal(Saudi Arabia), Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait), Meritorious Unit Commendation, Army Superior Unit Award, Drivers Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Senior Aircraft Crewman Badge, and the Turkish Parachutist Badge.
Nelson is married to the former Juliet Elisa Wilson from the Canal Zone, Republic of Panama. Juliet is also a veteran.
The Valley Patriot is proud to be able to honor such a man who was so willing to sacrifice his life and the future happiness of his family to defend this country.
Thank you Eric Nelson for your service to this nation and for the countless contributions you have made to your community. The debt that we owe you and the men and women you served with is immeasurable and can never be repaid.