From stripes to epaulets, MDS commander retires after 28 years

Col. Michael D. Nelson, 433rd Medical Squadron commander, listens to remarks during his retirement ceremony May 5, 2018 at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas. Nelson's career in the United State Air Force began as enlisted member in January 1987. (U.S. Air Force phot by Tech. Sgt. Carlos J. Trevino)

Col. Michael D. Nelson, 433rd Medical Squadron commander, listens to remarks during his retirement ceremony May 5, 2018 at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas. Nelson's career in the United State Air Force began as enlisted member in January 1987. (U.S. Air Force phot by Tech. Sgt. Carlos J. Trevino)

Col. Michael Nelson, 433rd Medical Squadron, pays tribute to his father, Larry Nelson, by giving him the American flag the 433rd Honor Guard had just presented to him at his retirement ceremony May 5, 2018 at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Carlos J. Trevino)

Col. Michael Nelson, 433rd Medical Squadron, pays tribute to his father, Larry Nelson, by giving him the American flag the 433rd Honor Guard had just presented to him at his retirement ceremony May 5, 2018 at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Carlos J. Trevino)

Brig. Gen. John C. Fobian, former 433rd commander, presented Mrs. Sarah Nelson, a spouse certificate of appreciation alongside her husband Col. Michael Nelson, 433rd Medical Squadron commander, May 5, 2018 at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas. Nelson began his Air Force career at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas as an enlisted Airman as a bioenvironmental engineering specialist. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Carlos J. Trevino)

Brig. Gen. John C. Fobian, former 433rd commander, presented Mrs. Sarah Nelson, a spouse certificate of appreciation alongside her husband Col. Michael Nelson, 433rd Medical Squadron commander, May 5, 2018 at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas. Nelson began his Air Force career at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas as an enlisted Airman as a bioenvironmental engineering specialist. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Carlos J. Trevino)

Brig. Gen. John C. Fobian (Ret.), a former 433rd Airlift Wing commander, presents Col. Michael D. Nelson(right), 433rd Medical Squadron commander, the certificate of retirement in a ceremony May 5, 2018 at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas. Nelson’s career in the United States Air Force began as an enlisted member in January 1987. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Carlos J. Trevino)

Brig. Gen. John C. Fobian (Ret.), a former 433rd Airlift Wing commander, presents Col. Michael D. Nelson(right), 433rd Medical Squadron commander, the certificate of retirement in a ceremony May 5, 2018 at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas. Nelson’s career in the United States Air Force began as an enlisted member in January 1987. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Carlos J. Trevino)

Col. Michael Nelson, 433rd Medical Squadron, salutes his father, Larry Nelson, after he gives him the American flag the 433rd Honor Guard presented the retiring colonel at his retirement ceremony May 5, 2018 at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Carlos J. Trevino)

Col. Michael Nelson, 433rd Medical Squadron, salutes his father, Larry Nelson, after he gives him the American flag the 433rd Honor Guard presented the retiring colonel at his retirement ceremony May 5, 2018 at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Carlos J. Trevino)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas --

Col. Michael D. Nelson, 433rd Medical Squadron commander, retired in a ceremony May 5, 2018 held in the historic building 1610 on Port San Antonio.

 

Nelson's career in the United States Air Force began as an enlisted Airman in January 1987. He completed Bioenvironmental Engineering Technical School at the now closed Brooks Air Force Base on the southeast side of San Antonio.

 

In 1991, he separated from active duty service after serving in Operation Desert Storm. Nelson returned to military duty as a traditional reservist with the 433rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron where he served as a medical corps service officer in 1993 after earning a commission.  

 

Brig. Gen. John C. Fobian (Ret.), a former 433rd Airlift Wing commander, was the presiding official for the ceremony. Nelson was Fobian's executive officer while they were deployed to Southwest Asia.

 

The keynote address was given however by Lt. Col. John Fisher (Ret.), who served with Nelson early in their careers. 

 

"The most important message is that not only did the military pick up on his leadership skills," Fisher said,"His peers have and his  family knows that." Fisher recounted how the two Reserve Citizen Airmen contributed to the Alamo Wing as they progressed through the ranks from junior officers to senior leadership.

 

"My congratulations on 28 years, you served well," Fisher said. 

 

Nelson spoke about making the difficult decision to retire as he sat in front of a computer screen and filled out his retirement information before hitting the send button.

 

"Working with some of the finest this country has to offer," Nelson said,"It's hard to walk away from that. But, I do so knowing having the privilege and honor of serving as a member of the 433rd Medical Squadron."

 

Nelson reflected on the Reserve Citizen Airmen he is leaving behind.

 

"I look at the younger generation, and the way I see it, they are the heavy lifters," Nelson said. "Having been prior enlisted myself, I think it is the truth. I believe they are the heavy lifters."   

He also described the effort it took to get to this point in his career.

 

"It is a team effort, and it has been one that I have taken a distinct pleasure in being a part of I could not have been any more prouder of you. I can't tell you how much I appreciate what you did," Nelson said to his Airmen.