Colonel Richard J. Nelson, Jr., is the Commander, 31st Operations Group, Aviano Air Base, Italy. In that capacity, he commands all of Aviano's operations functions, made up of four squadrons, the 510th Fighter Squadron, 555th Fighter Squadron, 606th Air Control Squadron, and 31st Operations Support Squadron.
Colonel Nelson entered the United States Air Force after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin in 1995. He is a command pilot with over 2,000 flying hours, including combat over Iraq and Libya. He has held multiple positions at the squadron, group, and wing levels and prior to his current assignment was the Chief of Operations for the National Military Command Center, Joint Chiefs of Staff, J-3, Pentagon, Washington, DC.
1995 Bachelor of Arts in Government, The University of Texas, Austin, Texas
2002 U.S. Air Force Weapons Instructor Course, Nellis AFB, Nev.
2003 Squadron Officer School, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
2009 Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
2009 Master of Art in Military Operational Art and Science, Air University
2015 Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy, National Defense University
2015 Master of Science in National Resource Strategy, National Defense University
1. January 1996 – August 1996, Executive Officer, 47 Medical Group, Laughlin AFB, Texas
2. September 1996 – September 1997, Student (Distinguished Graduate), Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training, Laughlin AFB, Texas
3. September 1997 – November 1997, Student, Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals, Sheppard AFB, Texas
4. December 1997 – August 1998, Pilot, F-16 Replacement Training Unit, 61st Fighter Squadron, Luke
5. September 1998 – September 1999, F-16 Pilot, Assistant Chief of Training, 36th Fighter Squadron, Osan AB, Republic of Korea
6. October 1999 – June 2002, F-16 Instructor Pilot, Chief of Scheduling, and Electronic Combat Pilot, 34th Fighter Squadron, Hill AFB, Utah
7. July 2002 – December 2002, F-16 Pilot, US Air Force Fighter Weapons School, Nellis AFB, Nev.
8. January 2003 – February 2005, F-16 Instructor Pilot, Chief of Weapons and Tactics, 36th Fighter Squadron, Flight Commander of Weapons and Tactics, 51st Operational Support Squadron, Osan AB, Republic of Korea
9. March 2005 – December 2007, F-16 Instructor Pilot, Chief of Weapons and Tactics, 62nd Fighter Squadron, Chief Instructor, 56th Training Squadron, Luke AFB, Ariz.
10. July 2008 – June 2009, Student, Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
11. July 2009 – June 2011, Program Element Monitor for Adversary Tactics Group and Program Manager for F-16 Weapons and Tactics, Air Combat Command, Langley AFB, Va.
12. July 2011 – August 2012, F-16 Evaluator Pilot and Director of Operations, 55th Fighter Squadron, Shaw AFB, South Carolina
13. August 2012 – June 2014, F-16 Instructor Pilot and Commander, 20th Operations Support Squadron, Shaw AFB, South Carolina
14. July 2014 - June 2015, Student, Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy, National Defense University, Fort McNair, Washington, DC.
15. June 2015 – December 2015, Action Officer, Air Reconnaissance Operations Branch, Joint Chiefs of Staff, J-33, Pentagon, Washington, DC.
16. January 2016 – June 2016, Chief of Operations, National Military Command Center, Joint Chiefs of Staff, J-3, Pentagon, Washington, DC.
17. June 2016 – June 2017, Chief, Force Application Division (J8), Joint Staff, Washington D.C.
18. June 2017 – Present, Commander, 31st Operations Group, Aviano AB, Italy
Rating: Command Pilot
Flight hours: 2,100
Aircraft flown: F-16
MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Defense Superior Service Medal
Meritorious Service Medal with five oak leaf clusters
Air Medal with Valor with one oak leaf cluster
Aerial Achievement Medal
Air Force Commendation Medal
Air Force Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster
Air Force Combat Action Medal
Combat Readiness Medal
EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION
Second Lieutenant, December 28, 1995
First Lieutenant, December 28, 1997
Captain, December 28, 1999
Major, February 1, 2006
Lieutenant Colonel, December 1, 2010
Colonel, March 1, 2017
(Current as of July 2017)