WESTFIELD, NJ – Dr. Derrick Nelson has been nominated for the Soldier’s Medal.

The Westfield school board voted unanimously to nominate Nelson for the award during its meeting Tuesday night.

“Dr. Nelson recognized his personal sense of duty to save the life of a stranger and accepted the additional risks and prolonged recovery time associated with an invasive surgical bone marrow donation,” board member Brendan Galligan wrote in the resolution to nominate Nelson. “The Westfield Board of Education strongly urges The United States Secretary of the Army, Mark Esper, to posthumously award the Soldier’s Medal to Chief Warrant Officer Dr. Derrick E. Nelson.”

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Nelson served as a chief warrant officer and had served overseas in Kuwait. He died April 8 at age 44 following complications from a bone marrow donation procedure.

The Soldier’s Medal, established by the U.S. Congress in July 1926, is awarded by the Department of Defense.

“The Soldier’s Medal is awarded to any person of the Armed Forces of the United States who … distinguished himself or herself by heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy,” the resolution reads. “The heroism must have involved a clearly recognizable personal hazard or danger and the voluntary risk of life under conditions not involving conflict with an armed enemy.”

With the school board’s approval, Galligan will submit forms and supporting documentation to the Secretary of the Army. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, Galligan said.

Nelson, who was from Plainfield, joined the Westfield Public School District in 2010 and served as the Assistant Principal of Roosevelt Intermediate School for two years. The school board named Nelson Westfield High School Principal in 2017 after he had served as acting principal for a year.

The full resolution can be found here.

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