Pilot Extraordinaire, MBAF Base’s Longest Serving Commander
by Melissa LaScaleia
Colonel Joseph R. Nevers had an illustrious military career with the United States Air Force that spanned thirty-five years.
He was a renowned fighter pilot in the Vietnam War and flew more than 7,700 military hours in F-86, F-100, and F-104 aircraft. In the 1950s, the F-100 Super Sabre replaced the F-86 in the Air Force lineup of planes with its superior design.
The F-100 distinguished itself by being the first plane in the Air Force to exceed the speed of sound in level flight. The F-104, a further enhancement in the F series of planes, has been called a missile with wings by some pilots, due to its speed and ability to climb quickly.
Nevers logged 4,885 flying hours in the F-104— a number which was exceeded by only one other pilot in the United States Air Force.
Nevers flew F-104 combat missions during the Vietnam War. Later in the war, he served the United States further by acting as a Deputy Base Commander of a special operations wing operating from a base in Thailand.
Nevers held other key assignments during his military career.
He was the director of F-104 operations at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona; Deputy Base Commander at Homestead Air Force Base, Florida; and Commander of the 354th Combat Support Group at Myrtle Beach Air Force Base during the ’70s.
In effect, he was the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing’s Base Commander for the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base. He served for more than seven years, becoming our base’s longest serving commander.
Jim Parker, when he was stationed at the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base in 1978, remembers meeting Colonel Nevers and what it was like to be stationed under his supervision:
“He was a well-liked base commander. He had a great reputation amongst the military as well as civilian employees and the community at large. I was 18 when I met him. I remember he made an impression on me with his ability to discern a person’s character. He was one of the highest authority figures I had ever met, and he was a role model for me as a community leader and an authority figure. He was well liked, and he was a gentleman and a scholar.”
Colonel Nevers served as base commander the entire time Jim was stationed here.
Colonel Joseph R. Nevers medals include: the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, and five Air Medals. He currently lives in Florida.
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