Charles E. Nelson

  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • Cold War


LTC Charles Nelson was born in Cranston, Rhode Island in 1939.  He attended Cranston High School where he ran cross- country and wrestled. Charles also participated in Boy Scouts.  He entered the University of Rhode Island in 1958.  He was a member of Phi Mu Delta Fraternity, on the URI wrestling team, and was enrolled in the ROTC program.   Charles earned a degree in 1962.

Following graduation, Charlie began his military career by enlisting in the United States Marine Corps Reserve.  He attended boot camp at Paris Island SC after which he was transferred to Camp Lejeune NC for Fire Direction Training. Three years later, with the rank of Corporal, he was discharged from the Marine Corps Reserves and enlisted in Co D, 19th Special Forces Group, Rhode Island National Guard. He entered Officer Candidate School and was commissioned a 2LT in the Rhode Island National Guard.

In 1972, Charlie transferred to the 1032nd Army Reserve School in Providence RI as an instructor and was promoted to Captain. CPT Nelson transferred back to the National Guard in 1976 as the Administration and Training Officer for the R.I. Military Academy. During the blizzard of 1978 he played a major role in coordinating helicopter rescue missions throughout the state.   In 1980, he transferred to the 2nd Battalion, 103rd Field Artillery Brigade as the S-2 Intelligence.  During this time, he was also Cadre for the Chemical Warfare School that supported 5 Artillery Batteries.  He took command of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery and his Battery was chosen best of 11 batteries.

In 1984, Charlie moved to the Brigade S-1 Personnel and was promoted to Major.  He completed The Command and General Staff College in 1986.  In January 1990, Major Nelson was transferred to Rhode Island National Guard Headquarters and took Command of the Headquarters Detachment and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.    LTC Nelson commanded the Headquarters Detachment until November 1992.  He completed 30 years-service and was required to retire.  In order to stay in service, LTC Nelson resigned his commission and was sworn back into the National Guard as a Warrant Officer and assigned to the Inspector General Team.  He then became the State Marksmanship Coordinator.  CWO Nelson remained in service until age 60, after serving 37 years. His military awards include: Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal; among other Reserve and Guard awards.

Charlie’s civilian occupation was in sales with Xerox Company.  Charlie and his wife Joan live in Johnston, Rhode Island, where they raised two children, Jennifer and Jeff.  He has been and continues to be very active in his community and the State as an active blood donor, and Salvation Army volunteer. He is active in his church, and he volunteers by supporting the Guard and Reserves. Charlie has been a very generous donor to the URI Alumni Association and the URI Athletic Department.

LTC Charles Nelson has spent his entire life serving his community, State, and the United States. His exemplary devotion to duty and outstanding leadership are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon his family, the United States, and the University of Rhode Island.