Born in 1968 to parents Joseph and Diane Zalac in Pontiac, Michigan, Senior Master Sergeant Eilene M. Nielsen passed away at age 51 after a fierce battle with breast cancer. "Sergeant", as she was affectionately known to many, went to high school in Walled Lake, MI and joined the Air Force shortly after graduation. Eilene would go on to marry fellow Airman and love of her life Scott Nielsen on October 19, 1991 in Arizona. The Nielsen family had two wonderful children, Blake and Logan, and shared an amazingly blessed life together.
During her Air Force career, Eilene served as a Medic for 23 years and flew on aeromedical evacuation missions. She deployed in support of Operations DESERT STORM, DESERT CALM, PROVIDE COMFORT, SUPPORT HOPE and ASSURED RESPONSE. She retired from the Air Force on 31 July 2009 as the Superintendent of the Primary Care and Emergency Services Flights, 60th Medical Operations Squadron, Travis Air Force Base, CA. As the senior enlisted advisor for 156 personnel, she enforced commander's policies and implemented strategic plans while advising 2 Flight Commanders and 11 element leaders. SMSgt Nielsen developed and mentored 4 Flight Chiefs, 57 enlisted, and 9 civilians. She also guided the allocation and execution of $3.5M operating budget and a $150K DoD/VA Joint Venture satellite clinic. Eilene received numerous awards and decorations over the years with some of the most notable being: Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Aerial Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Combat Readiness Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Kuwaiti Liberation Medal and Master Training Instructor Badge.
After her retirement, SMSgt Nielsen began teaching at Lebanon High School as an Air Force Junior ROTC Instructor where she earned the love and respect of thousands of cadets, parents, educators and community members alike. Sergeant's legacy lives on as she imparted a sense of community service to hundreds of JROTC cadets over the years and touched countless lives. Together they spent thousands of hours volunteering to support athletic events, community activities and parades, food drives, as well as providing crowd control, parking assistance, and helping fill student backpacks for less fortunate children. She will be remembered as a fearless leader, a generous soul, a caring friend, a wonderful teacher, a loving mother and an amazing wife.
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