Ronald Gerard Neilson
Ronald Gerard Neilson
  • August 17, 1958 - November 12, 2017
  • Carlsbad, California

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Lt. Col R. G. Neilson - aliases "Lobo", "The Colonel", and "Ron". For those that new R. G., you would have called him by one of his aliases. R. G. was born August 17, 1958 in the city of Lancaster, County of Los Angeles, California. He was the son of Bill D. Neilson of Osage City, Kansas and Inez Founteno Neilson of San Antonio, Texas (both deceased).

R. G.'s childhood was typical for the time period growing up in the 60's and 70's with Pepsi Cola, the Rolling Stones, and his favorite football team the Minnesota Viking (because of his admiration for quarterback Fran Tarkington). He attended St. Mary's Catholic School in Palmdale, CA and Paraclete High School in Quartz Hill, CA. As a child, R. G. played Pop Warner Football, was a member of Boy Scouts, and was an alter boy for the Catholic Church. In high school, he became a track and football star where he won many first place medals for track, and as the quarterback led his football team to a league championship. He was named to the Football All Antelope Valley Team and 2nd Team for CIF as a quarterback.

He went on to play football at Antelope Valley College in Lancaster, CA. It is here where he met his loving wife of 36 years, Karissa Jane Mosley Neilson. After attending one semester at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, R. G. he transferred to California State University of Long Beach, where he graduated in 1980 with a B.A. in Political Science. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into the United States Marine Corps on December 17, 1980. While waiting his military assignment, R. G. earned his private pilot's license from Long Beach Flight Academy. He reported to The Basic School, Quantico, VA in April of 1981. He married Karissa on September 26, 1981 in Victorville, CA. at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church.

R. G. attended Naval flight School at NAS Pensacola and received his wings in November 1982. One of his joys at flight school was watching his first son Paul being born June of 1982. He reported to his first duty station at 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW), Marine Aircraft Group 39, Helicopter Training Squadron 303 at Camp Pendleton, CA. He was then transferred to Marine Light Helicopter Squadron 367 (Scarface). There, R. G. flew UH-1N "Huey" helicopters, was promoted to First Lieutenant and attended Aviation Safety School in Monterey, CA. In between unit deployments, he was fortunate to be present when his second son Dustin was born. R. G. was reassigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron HMLA-169 (Vipers). He had been promoted to Captain, and in 1985 attended Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI) School in Yuma, Arizona. He became the squadron WTI Officer in which he trained other pilots in flying tactical missions. In August of 1987 Captain Neilson was assigned to 1st Tank Battalion on Camp Pendleton, where he served as the Battalion Air Officer.

In 1988, R. G. was reassigned to HMLA-169, where he again served in Operations. On December 1, 1990, he set sail aboard the U.S.S. Tarawa with MAG-50 as part of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm . He flew combat missions in support of coalition forces in the battle for Kuwait. After Operation Desert Storm, the U.S.S. Tarawa was sent to assist in Bangladesh after a devastating cyclone. Here R. G. flew in support of Operation Sea Angle, a humanitarian mission that delivered rice and fresh water into encampments.

After his return from the Gulf and Bangladesh, R. G. transferred to Corpus Christi, TX where he promoted to Major and commanded the U.S. Marines stationed at NAS Corpus Christi. He led this training squadron of Marines from 1991-1994. It is here where his precious daughter Keli Marie was born. In June of 1995 R.G. graduated from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Ft. Leavenworth, KS. He was reassigned to Marine Aircraft Group-39 Headquarters at Camp Pendleton. In 1996, R.G. transferred to Marine Corps Air Station El Toro where he was to prepare MCAS El Toro for decommissioning and ultimately permanent closure.

In 1998, Lieutenant Colonel Neilson became the Officer In Charge of the aviation simulator building on Marine Corps Naval Air Station Miramar. He served there until his retirement in September of 2001.
LtCol. Neilson earned the following personal medals and unit awards: Meritorious Service Medal; Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal; Air Medal; Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal; Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait); Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia); Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (5th Award); Humanitarian Service Medal; Southeast Asia Service Medal (3rd Award); National Defense Service Medal; Navy Unit Commendation (2nd Award); Meritorious Unit Commendation (4th Award); Joint Meritorious Unit Award; Rifle Expert Badge (4th Award); Pistol Expert Badge (7th Award).
In addition to flying, R. G.'s passion was football. He volunteered with Carlsbad High School Lancer football team with filming and coaching from 1996-2002 and 2007-2010.

After retiring from the USMC, in 2001 R. G. went to work for Netjets as a pilot flying personal business jets. He also worked part time as an instructor for Pinnacle Aviation, at Palomar Airport in Carlsbad, CA. R. G. stayed active in aviation until his illness forced him to retire in July of 2013. His job then became to be "the best cancer patient" he could be. He remained active and surprised his doctors with his commitment towards fighting the disease, with daily fitness, record keeping, and spiritual mindfulness. He battled hard every day to the end.a true warrior.

R. G.'s devotion to God, country and family has always been evident by his words and deeds. He is survived by his devoted and beloved wife Karissa Jane Neilson, son Paul Gerard Neilson, son Dustin Timothy Neilson, daughter-in-law Alicia Liane Neilson, and daughter Keli Marie Neilson. Also his brother David L. Neilson and sister-in-law Brenda Neilson of Palmdale, CA, his nephew Hector Cons and wife Amanda Cons, niece Ashlie Neilson, and Vincent Neilson and his wife Melisa