September 30, 2023

A 2015 Macon R-1 High School Graduate was recently selected to be part of a test launch of an unarmed Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile in California later in October. Ben Nelson was one of six missile operators representing all three missile wings in the United States to be part of the team in which will launch a test missile to the Reagan Test Site near Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. These test launches are coordinated well in advance with nations across the world to ensure the safe execution of the test on the world stage. The United States conducts these test launches several times a year to ensure the reliability of the land based leg of the nation’s nuclear triad while also collecting data on key parts of the missile’s system.

Nelson commissioned into the Air Force as a 2nd Lieutenant after graduating from the University of Missouri in May of 2021. Later that fall he attended initial skills training at Vandenberg SFB in Southern California where he graduated in March of 2022 officially becoming a Nuclear and Missile Operations Officer. Nelson was recognized with the Academic Achievement Award after receiving a cumulative of 98% on nine tests throughout the course. After graduation, he arrived to his first duty station in Montana in April of 2022 where he has since pulled 80 active alerts. During each alert, Nelson and his crew partner take legal custody of approximately 10 nuclear missiles while ensuring the safe operation, security, and maintenance of those missiles. Within his squadron, Nelson is currently serving as the President of the Red Dawg Association which is the squadron’s booster club. Outside of his official Air Force duties, Ben was unanimously nominated and approved by the Mayor of Great Falls and City Commission to sit as a board member on the Mansfield Center for Performing Arts Advisory Board. His efforts and contributions led to him being named Missileer of the 4th Quarter in 2022 and then Missileer of the Year for 2022 within the 12th Missile Squadron. Ben was also named as a nation-wide recipient of the 30 Under 30 Award for Pi Kappa Phi. Last month Nelson promoted to 1st Lieutenant after completing his second year of active duty service.

Ben is the son of Mark and Lori Nelson of Macon, Missouri