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Crockett grad retires with many honors after 24 years in Air Force

A 1981 David Crockett High School graduate, Tech. Sgt. Lester (Les) E. Nelson has retired from the U.S. Air Force after 24 years of faithful and honorable military service.
Prior to retiring, Nelson served as supervisor of the Planning Section, Operations Flight assigned to the 11th Civil Engineer Squadron at Bolling Air Force Base, Washington, D.C. He supervised a team responsible for estimation and planning of all maintenance or minor construction of 87 facilities, 40 miles of street surface and various utilities that comprise Bolling Air Force Base real estate.
He enlisted in the Air Force in May 1986 and received training as a plumbing specialist. His first assignment was Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, assigned to the Structural Maintenance and Repair Team. Later, Nelson branched out to act as an interior electrician and as a bench stock monitor. In 1989, he arrived at Kelly Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas, as a plumbing specialist and served a supervisor of the Utilities Shop. As supervisor of the structural maintenance team, he organized the first-ever fire suppression research library, a precursor to modern-day community websites. For his successful problem solving and system improvements, Nelson served as the Civil Dorm Manager. In October 1994, he deployed to Incirlik Air Base, Adana, Turkey to serve in support of Operation Provide Comfort.
In March 2001, Nelson was assigned to Sheppard Air Force Base, Wichita Falls, Texas, to serve as a Utilities Systems Instructor to train 1,000 inter-service utility apprentices. In Wichita Falls, Nelson presented the community an innovative science project to 50 elementary school children, prepared 1,000 Thanksgiving meals for shut-ins, and renovated eight low income homes.
In May 2004 upon arriving at Bolling Air Force Base, he developed a field training plan for 115 engineers and created an innovative on-the-job training plan to augment the training regiment for utilities personnel.
Sergeant Nelson is a founding member of the Maryland 1, Rolling Thunder Chapter. The organization repatriated remains of veterans from World War II to Operating Freedom, and provided security for the founder and national executive director of Rolling Thunder, and crowd control for Memorial Day event activities.
His major military decorations and awards include the three Air Force Commendation Medals, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, two Air Force Achievement Medals, eight Air Force Good Conduct Medals, the National Defense Service Medal with one device, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Humanitarian Service Medal, the Air Force Overseas Ribbon-Long Tour, the Air Force Professional Military Education Graduation Ribbon, and the Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon.
Nelson is the son of Janice Nelson and the late Louis E. Nelson Sr. of Woodhill Road, Johnson City.
He graduated in 1981 from David Crockett High School in Jonesborough. In 2000, Nelson received an associate in applied science degree in Ecological Controls, and in 2004 received another associate in applied science degree in Instructor in Military Technology, both degrees from the Community College of the Air Force, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.