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First Name: Chase

Last Name: Nielsen

Birthplace: Hyrum, UT, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Air Force (1947 - present)

Middle Name: Jay

Date of Birth: 14 January 1917

Date of Death: 23 March 2007

Rank: Lieutenant Colonel

Years Served:
Chase Jay Nielsen

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Chase Jay Nielsen
Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Air Force

Chase Jay Nielsen was born on 14 January 1917 in Hyrum, UT.

Nielsen attended Utah State University and graduated in 1939 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering. In August 1939, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a flying cadet. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in June 1941.

Nielsen, a Lieutenant at the time, was the navigator of "Crew # 6," the sixth B-25 to launch from the deck of the USSĀ Hornet on 18 April 1942; part of the Doolittle Raiders. Most of the aircraft were able to reach land after their mission, but two, including Nielsen's, were forced to ditch off the coast of China. Two men were killed in the ditching.

Eight men in all were taken prisoner by the Japanese and held in inhumane conditions from which four survived. Nielsen spent 40 months as a prisoner of war, most of the time in solitary confinement, before being rescued at the end of the war by an Office of Strategic Services para-rescue team and brought back to the U.S.

Nielsen returned to Shanghai, China, in January 1946 to testify in war crimes trials against his former captors, who had tortured him with waterboarding, then called the "water cure."

He became a member of Strategic Air Command (SAC) in March 1949 at Roswell AFB, NM, where he was assigned to the 509th Bombardment Group, the first group to be organized, equipped and trained for nuclear warfare. During his decade with SAC, Colonel Nielsen helped the command develop key operational innovations, including radar navigation bombardment, air refueling employing the flying boom, and electronic countermeasures. He helped integrate "fail safe" and other emergency war order procedures into SAC's unique set of flight profiles.

Nielsen returned to the air while assigned to SAC and reached more than 10,000 flying hours in B-29s, B-50s, B-36s and B-52s. His longest flight lasted 26 hours non-stop without refueling from Okinawa, Japan, to Walker Air Force Base in a B-36.

Lieutenant Colonel Nielsen retired from the Air Force in 1961.

Medals and Awards

Distinguished Flying Cross
Purple Heart (2 Awards)
Air Force Commendation Medal (2 Awards)
Outstanding Unit Award
Air Force Longevity (5 Awards)
Breast Order of Pao Ting (People's Republic of China)

In Retirement

Nielsen began a career as an Industrial Engineer with the Salt Lake City Air Logistics Center at Hill Air Force Base, UT. He retired in 1981.

Death and Burial

Lieutenant Colonel Chase Jay Nielsen died 23 March 2007 at his home in Brigham City, UT, at the age of 90. He is buried at Hyrum City Cemetery in Hyrum, UT.

Chase Jay Nielsen was a career officer in the U.S. Air Force. He is notable as having participated in the Doolittle Raid in 1942 and being one of the four surviving prisoners of war from that raid.

Honoree ID: 2903   Created by: MHOH




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