Son that followed father's path in Navy retires

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Bud Nelson knows what a U.S. Navy career feels like. He enlisted in 1957 in Long Beach and served for 26 years.

He retired in 1983, and before he left, he experienced a memory that lives on in true Naval tradition.

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"My son decided to make a career out of the Navy as well, and I was allowed to give him his reenlistment oath," said Nelson, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265 commander.

The father and son were stationed on different ships, so the elder Nelson simply sent the oath by signal light. The younger Nelson, a third class petty officer, received his oath aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise from his father, a signalman chief on the USS Truxton, a nuclear-powered cruiser assigned to the carrier battle group.

The younger Nelson, named Frank Robert Nelson and nicknamed "Bud" like his father, enlisted in the Navy in 1980. He decided to make a career out of the service after witnessing the rescue of downed crewmen in the water, becoming a rescue swimmer shortly thereafter.

The younger Nelson had a distinguished career, earning seven Navy and Marine commendation medals and four achievement medals.

The elder Nelson couldn't be more proud of his oldest son.

"He was hot -- No. 1 in his class in boot camp at San Diego. He pulled 11 people off a barge that was sinking," the elder Nelson said. "I put in 26 years, and he had to beat me by one year. He did 27."

A retirement ceremony was held in March for the younger Nelson, with his father in attendance.

Also present was the next generation of Nelsons enlisted in the Navy. Bryce Nelson, who saluted his father, Bud Nelson Jr., and ended the retirement ceremony with the words, "You are relieved."

The elder Nelson has lived in Craig since 1987, and the younger has become a civilian contractor working for the Navy in San Diego.

Bryce Nelson is an engineman in the Navy.

The elder Nelson sums up his feelings for the military service that has embraced his son and grandson.

"I loved it," he said. "I loved going to sea."

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