Monday, June 5, 2023

Avenue of Heroes: Robert “Brick” Nelson Jr.

Written by: Retired CAPT Roger Welch

Robert W. “Brick” Nelson Jr. hails from the Pacific Northwest and Southern California. The oldest of 10, Nelson excelled in athleticism, communicating, intelligence and wit, patience and especially leadership. He became a Navy Strike Fighter pilot in 1975, earning his “Brick”’ call sign deploying in A-7s, F-4s and FA-18s on USS Ranger, Midway, Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Enterprise and Harry Truman. He was a Training Command
instructor in Texas; Carrier Air Wing Five landing signals officer in Japan; and Fleet Replacement Squadron instructor in Florida and Nevada. He commanded Strike Fighter Squadron 105 and Carrier Air Wing Three. Ashore, he served as Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic’s FA-18 Program manager, senior fellow for the Strategic Studies Group and deputy director of Chief Naval Operation’s Deep Blue office. Nelson accumulated more than 7,800 flight hours and 1,400 arrested landings. His awards include: Legion of Merit (two awards), Bronze Star, and two individual Air Medals with V for valor. He also is an esteemed member of the Early and Pioneer Naval Aviators Association, or “Golden Eagles.”

Nelson defines the quintessential fighter pilot. He is a gifted thinker, communicator, planner, tactician, leader and warfighting aviator. His extensive tours of duty, experiences and list of exceptional talents, however, fall short of describing him.

Retiring in 2005, Nelson returned to Southern California as the director of Northrop Grumman’s Aerospace Systems Business Development and Strategy and CEO of Tier One Defense and National Security. He additionally spent time as a board member for the San Diego Navy League, Fleet Week San Diego, San Diego Military Advisory Council, Tailhook
Association and Tailhook Educational Foundation. At the 2022 Tailhook convention, “Brick” received an emotional 10-minute standing ovation as he was given the Tailhook Lifetime Achievement award. Nelson has three children, Robert Nelson III, Ian Scott Nelson, Caitlin (Nelson) Probert, and grandson Robert Nelson IV. He and his wife reside in Coronado.

Nelson was an unrivaled flight lead and patient wingman. He remains a loyal shipmate, astute mentor, fearless warrior and compassionate problem-solver. Mostly, he is an unwavering friend and a devoted sibling, father and husband. Everyone who knows him respects and loves him. “Brick” is our brother and hero.

The Hometown Banner Program is a military service recognition program sponsored by the City of Coronado. Introduced in 2014, the program has honored 218 hometown heroes. On Nov. 5, 2022, another 12 will be honored. The City funds all the costs for the program. City staff and volunteers from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2422, the Coronado Historical Association and the Third and Fourth Streets Neighborhood Association oversee its operation. In 2011 the inspiration for the program came spontaneously with the movement of two Navy SEALs to their final resting place. News spread quickly in Coronado. The local Rotary Club passed out American flags. People lined Fourth Street to honor the fallen service members. As the procession approached the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, a lone Navy SEAL stood at attention, saluting as he waited for the passage of his comrades. At that moment, it was clear that Third and Fourth streets were already an Avenue of Heroes. From that spontaneous beginning, the program was launched in May 2015 with 18 banners. Ceremonies are held twice yearly and men and women with ties to the community have been recognized from the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps. The Hometown Banner program is a reminder that Coronado has a rich history and legacy of service to country.

Managing Editor
Managing Editor
Originally from upstate New York, Dani Schwartz has lived in Coronado since 1996. She is happy to call Coronado home and to have raised her children here. In her free time she enjoys reading, exercising, trying new restaurants, and just walking her dog around the "island." Have news to share? Send tips or story ideas to: [email protected]