Nickelson is a graduate of Ottawa University, Finlay Engineering College, Webster University and the U.S. Army’s prestigious Command and General Staff Officer College, as well as a 1974 graduate of Ottawa High School.
He entered the service in January 1974 with Ottawa’s 1st Battalion-127th Field Artillery of the Kansas Army National Guard as a field artillery operations and intelligence specialist. He served his first 24 years as an enlisted soldier culminating his enlisted career as a senior Infantry sergeant before commissioning.
Nickelson now serves as a major medical command senior environmental science and engineering officer. He previously served as an artilleryman, infantryman and civil affairs officer. Nickelson was awarded the Bronze Star for service in Iraq while attached to the 3rd Infantry Division and the 82nd Airborne Division.