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Colonel Dennis Nielsen is a retired military officer with 35 years of dedicated service in the United States Air Force. During his committed time of military service he flew a variety of military aircraft including the T-38, F-100, A7, F16 and C26. He was well known throughout the military for his outstanding leadership capabilities and was selected as the Director of Safety for the Air National Guard.

While 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.

During Colonel Nielsen’s service in the military he was awarded the Distinguished 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.

He was also honored in a memorial 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 Crash Landing: The Rescue of Flight 232, 1992.

Colonel 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.”

Col. 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 center.

Colonel Nielsen 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.

A dedicated family man, Col. Nielsen and his wife of 37 years, Linda currently reside in Nashville, North Carolina with their two dogs Pepper and Coco and their three cats. They have two daughters, Holly Nielsen, and Raquel Nielsen-Williams. Holly is employed at a Fortune 100 technology company in the Research Triangle Park. Raquel is a recent graduate of North Carolina State in horticultural studies and is the supervisor for a local company in Durham. Raquel is married to Charles Williams II also a NC State graduate and native of North Carolina.
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