Col. William Nelson, MD

Class Year




Posted on: May 8, 2018

Col. William Nelson, MD, chief of integrated and international operational medicine for the 711th Human Performance Wing, received the 2018 Air Force Hero of Military Service award for his influential leadership and unquestionable commitment to military medicine and the Air Force Medical Service.

Nelson is board certified in orthopedic surgery and aerospace medicine. His 27-year career has taken him around the globe, acquiring more than 1,100 flying hours and numerous achievements and honors along the way.

“Flight surgeons are responsible for the health, safety, and performance of those service members who operate aircraft or conduct missions from aircraft,” said Lt. Gen. Mark Ediger, U.S. Air Force Surgeon General, who nominated him for the award. “Nelson was a special operations flight surgeon, which meant that the mission took him to some rough places, great distances from suitable medical care. With years of experience, including participation in combat operations, Nelson became recognized by Airmen and medics alike.”

Nelson’s dedication and expertise have not gone unnoticed throughout his Air Force career. As a special operations squadron flight surgeon, he served in Special Operations Command Pacific. He also commanded the 39th Medical Operations Squadron at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, and the 435th Aerospace Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, the Air Force’s largest overseas aeromedical squadron.

“Simply put, he is a flight surgeon’s flight surgeon,” said Ediger.

Another of Nelson’s notable accomplishments was establishing an Integrated Operational Support working group to support the Air Force Surgeon General’s operational and readiness focus. He developed the Operational Support Team concept, which inserts preventative care into higher risk Air Force squadrons to increase mission effectiveness.