Retired Army Major Receives Awards for Life-Saving Actions 

The Lincoln VFW was filled with family and friends who came to honor Major John Nelson and his 29 year military career.He received the Legion of Merit and the Maine Silver Star.”The career began in 1979. He was an enlisted man. He became a warrant officer, he had become a medic, and ended up as a battalion surgeon,” said Maine Adjutant General Bill Libby. In addition to his years of service, he is known for his life-saving actions on one particular day in Iraq.He had prepared his base with a mass casualty plan and pre-positioned supplies. He had a premonition that his bases’ dining hall would be a target for attack.”I always look ahead because you never know what’s going to happen,” said Nelson.His fears came true on December 21,2004 when a suicide bomber attacked his base in Mosul.”It was a horrible day. One that is unfortunately seared in my memory,” said Michael Steinbuchel, John Nelson’s Company Commander.”Everything turned red and I felt my ears were hurting. This one was bleeding and I woke up on the floor. I couldn’t hear anything. I couldn’t see anything. But I knew we had injured people, so I immediately started doing what I do. I started treating those who needed it the worst,” said Nelson.22 men died that day, including two soldiers from Maine. But it’s believed that without Nelson’s plan, many more lives would have been lost. “The plan worked. The pre-positioned supplies saved lives and despite the fact that Doc was seated 30 feet from where the explosion took place and seriously injured, he participated until he himself was evacuated,” said Libby.”What Major Nelson did was, he brought the entire battalion together to function flawlessly on that day,” said Steinbuchel.Nelson is now retired, but he says he misses his army career. Nelson said,”My last regret is that Johnny can no longer go out and play with the soldiers in the sandbox.”