MOUNT VERNON — Being a leader in the Army infantry at a young age was a quick way to grow up for Joe Nielson of Mount Vernon. He learned very quickly what it means to be a leader and to help guide his men toward success.
Nielson grew up in Collingdale, Pa., near Philadelphia, later moving to Massachusetts. He graduated from Melrose High School in Melrose, Mass., north of Boston. He studied pre-med for one year at Tufts College in Bedford, Mass., before being drafted into the U.S. Army in 1944. He would spend time at Fort McLellan, Ala., and Camp Maxey, Texas, before being shipped out of Fort Devens, Mass.
Nielson was a member of the 99th Infantry in General Patton’s Third Army, serving four months as a private and 18 months as a staff sergeant before being promoted to first sergeant. Nielson was then responsible for directing the preparation of the military correspondence, records, forms and reports, and maintained files of his company correspondence and distribution from higher headquarters.