General Cornelius Nugteren of Colton, South Dakota, enlisted in the Air Force in 1952. The following year, he was assigned as a F-86 and F-l00 pilot in Germany. He later served in maintenance assignments in North Carolina and at the Air Force Academy, and then returned to Germany in 1960, where he became the Commander of the 49th Field Maintenance Squadron, USAFE in 1962. General Nugteren received a series of assignments in the United States as the F-105 Special Project Officer, C-141 Pilot/Flight Test Officer and Chief of Maintenance/Materiel Office of the Inspector General. In 1970 and 1971, he was the Chief of Maintenance Advisory Group, Republic of Vietnam. During the 1970s, General Nugteren held numerous positions in Europe including Deputy Commander for Maintenance (F4), Wing Commander 322nd Tactical Airlift Wing (C-130, EC130, C-9), Wing Commander 86th Tactical Fighter Wing (F-4) and Kaiserslautern Community Commander, in Germany, (housing, health and welfare for more than 55,000 Americans). He was Vice Commander at Ogden Air Logistics Center, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and later commanded the Air Rescue and Recovery Service where he was responsible for worldwide search and rescue missions, the National Rescue and Coordination Center, and worldwide weather reconnaissance. He then served as the Senior DOD Representative in Greece (JUSMAG). From 1982 to 1988, General Nugteren served as Commander of Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, where he managed a budget of $7 billion and a military/civilian work force of over 19,000 personnel. In that position, he was instrumental in establishing the Engineering School at Mercer University and developing the Museum of Aviation at Robins Air Force Base. His many awards and decorations include Defense Superior Service Medal, Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, and Legion of Merit with one Oak Leaf Cluster. He was listed in “Who’s Who in America” in 1981, and was inducted into the “Order of the Sword”, II in 1985. He retired from the Air Force in 1988, signed on as an advisor with the Mercer University Engineering Research Center, and continues his leadership role in the middle Georgia community.
In recognition of his distinguished military aviation career, Major General Cornelius Nugteren, USAF (Retired), was enshrined on April 24, 2004, into the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame.