NIELSEN, ROLAND ALBERT
NIELSEN, ROLAND ALBERT
Rank / Branch:
SP5 E-5, U.S. ARMY
44TH MEDICAL BRIGADE
Date of Birth:
NON-HOSTILE HELICOPTER CRASH
Awards & Decorations:
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list by County
ROLAND ALBERT NIELSEN, SPECIALIST FIVE, U.S. ARMY, MONAHANS, WARD COUNTY, TEXAS
AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Air Crewman Wings, Combat Medic Badge, Bronze Star with OLC, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, Air Medal with "V" device, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal
Roland A. Nielsen was born in LaGrange, Texas, the son of Dorothy Marie Austin and Albert Nielsen. His mother moved to to Portland, Oregon, where she worked in defense plants while Roland was young during the waning days of World War II, as Roland's father was in the military and overseas. When Mr. Nielsen returned, the marriage failed within a couple of years. His mother married Herbert Smith and a son, Gary was born to this union. Roland attended schools in Portland, attending Beaverton and Washington High Schools. After his junior year, he moved to live with relatives in Monahans, Texas and work in the oilfields. He did not return to school and enlisted in the Army, November 1, 1961 at age 17 with his mother's permission and used Monahans as his home of record.
He entered the service at Fort Campbell, Kentucky and was processed, then transferred to Fort Ord, California where he completed his basic training and medic training at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He had done a tour in Germany and then re-enlisted and had served at Fort Sill, Oklahoma with the 19th Artillery.
He began his tour as a medic in Vietnam on September 24, 1966 when he was assigned and mobilized with the 2nd Battalion, 94th Artillery from Fort Sill, Oklahoma as they mobilized from Fort Lewis, Washington. While with this unit, he was wounded by rocket fire and had been medevaced and underwent surgery in Japan, before he returned to complete his tour. When he completed this tour in September 1967, he extended for six months and volunteered to serve as a dust-off medic. He was assigned to 254th Medical Detachment, 498th Medical Company, 43rd Medical Group, 44th Medical Brigade.
He was killed on October 4, 1967 when he was a part of a dust-off mission flying in a night mission. The Huey Helicopter 1-D, tail number 65-12848 was flying at a low altitude in a rain storm. The pilot requested lighting when the helicopter made its first attempt at landing and were coming in for the second landing when the helicopter crashed into the trees, killing all aboard. It is conjectured that the pilot may have developed vertigo as the helicopter was lost from radar. The crash site was found the next day.
Specialist Nielsen was buried with full military honors at the Wilmette National Cemetery in Portland, Oregon. He was posthumously presented the Bronze Star and the Air Medal with "V" device, he had also been awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his first tour.
Willmette National Cemetery, Portland, Oregon