Funeral services were held this week in Sioux City, Iowa for charter Iowa Air National Guard member and former 185th Commander, Col. Warren “Bud” Nelson who passed away at the age of 97.

The Jackson, Minn. native came to the Iowa National Guard shortly after World War II. When he retired in 1980, Nelson was the last World War II veteran to serve as a commander of the Air Wing in Sioux City.

Nelson served in the military for almost 40 years and called Sioux City, Iowa home for most of his life. He continued to reside in Sioux City after his retirement where he remained active in veteran and service organizations.

Following World War II, Nelson, who had been working as a P-51 instructor pilot, was determined to continue flying. At the age of 21, with three years under his belt, he hoped to join the newly formed 174th Fighter Squadron in Sioux City, Iowa.

The Iowa National Guard’s 174th Fighter Squadron was first organized on Dec 2nd, 1946 and seemed like a perfect fit for the veteran P-51 pilot from nearby Jackson, Minn. Nelson was initially denied entrance into the Iowa National Guard however, because he was not a resident of the state. Undeterred, Nelson saw an opportunity to continue flying fighter planes in Sioux City and soon moved to Iowa.

The Sioux City Army Airbase had been a B-24 and B-29 bomber training base during the war and was in the process of being decommissioned when Nelson arrived. The Iowa National Guard received permission to base a P-51 fighter squadron in Sioux City as aircraft were being sent back to the U.S. after the war.

Pilots of the 174th initially flew World War II era P-51 Mustangs, but by 1950 the unit received its first jet powered aircraft, and they began flying the F-84 Thunderjet.

During his time in the Army Air Corps and Air National Guard, Nelson went on to pilot eight different aircraft and was recalled two additional times before ending his National Guard career in 1980 as the 185th Commander.