serving as the Director of Safety at ANG Headquarters in Washington
DC he had the responsibility of the flight weapons and ground safety
for more than 120,000 military personnel in over 200 locations.
His last military assignment before retirement was flying a C-26
surveillance aircraft for the counter drug agency.
Colonel Nielsen’s service in the military he was awarded
Flying Cross after diverting his A-7 fighter jet during a test
flight away from a populated area after engine failure, potentially
saving hundreds of lives while risking his own. This award is given
only to those who distinguish themselves by heroism or extraordinary
achievement while participating in aerial flight and is given only
to exceptional and outstanding individuals.
was also honored in a
statue after his image was captured by a photographer during
his rescue of a small child after the crash of flight 232 in Sioux
City, Iowa. Additionally, the story of his bravery and leadership
was later depicted in a docudrama
Landing: The Rescue of Flight 232, 1992.
Nielsen graduated form the University of Nebraska with a degree
in Law Enforcement. He has accomplished graduate studies with in
an assortment of subjects including International Studies. He has
a number of published articles including; “Zero’s Not
a Number but a New Way of Thinking”, “Virtual Safety” and “Vision
the Ability to See.”
Nielsen is also an experienced businessman who has operated several
small businesses and served on the Board of Directors for
others. He and his family also owned and operated a family farm.
He was elected to the board of directors of a credit union and
served as a member of the Sioux Gateway Airport Disaster Board.
His wife, Linda Nielsen, has also owned and operated a fitness
has also served a variety of community organizations and nonprofit
groups. Presently he serves as the vice president and member of
the board of directors of the Air Force Heritage Foundation, a
non-profit organization that promotes Air Force History. He is
the chairman of the board of directors for a non-profit
organization that provides financial counseling and tax preparation
to low and moderate income individuals and seniors. Col. Nielsen has
worked as a volunteer for various community organizations such
as the YMCA coaching both youth soccer and basketball. He has also
supported various companion animal rescue organizations with their
efforts. Col. Nielsen is currently active in veteran’s affairs
and maintains a web site to assist veterans and current military
members. He is also a former member of
Civil Air Patrol, a volunteer search and rescue organization that
mentors young people interested in careers in the aviation.