Patrick H. Nelson


V. Allen Adams, Asst. Superintendent of Police 1957 to 1961
Superintendent of Police 1965 to 1970

I only really let Pat have apiece. of my mind once . And this had to do with, again, his flying attitude. I was in Tuba City training police officers in the Tuba City District. Pat had flown into Tuba the evening before to talk to the men and was then gong on to Flagstaff the next morning for another meeting. He was flying the Tribes Cessna 172 on this occasion.  The next morning was a really bad day for flying. Fog had settled in over Tuba, and the temperature and dew point were the same. This meant an excellent possibility of icing up the wings of the Cessna. I tried in every way I knew to dissuade Pat from taking off to no avail.  I stood outside my squad car in the cold as he came full throttle down the short dirt airstrip in Tuba. Because I was so sure that bad things were going to happen, I had, in my mind plotted a rescue plan for after the crash. As Pat's landing gear cleared off the strip he almost immediately vanished into that pea soup cloud. The minute he left the ground I began counting in seconds. I knew his direction. I knew the speed of the aircraft and would be able to compute about how many miles he would travel before the crash. Our tribal planes were equipped with police radios, so I had asked Pat to radio me the minute he came out on top of the clouds. At exactly eleven seconds of counting, Pat called via  the Police radio and said, "I'm icing up.‑ I cant get any altitude.... I think I’m going down..” I was terrified, my mind began to compute exactly where he would crash. I knew I needed to get to him as quickly as I could.  I was just getting into my squad car when I heard the airplanes engine.

I couldn’t imagine where he was or his condition. Suddenly, out of that cloud Pat and his plane appeared. It touchdown on the airstrip right where it had lifted off, and lined up perfectly to roll straight ahead to a complete stop and still be on the runway. When I got to Pat and the plane, there was ice all over the plane. On the propeller, the wing, the wheels, the tail. and totally covering the windshield. Pat had opened the little side vent on the pilot side door and kept the plane on the strip.  How he lined up the way he did neither of us knows to this day. I'm sure, the good Lord saved Pat for the purpose of caring for a wife, and as I remember, eleven children. Pat was my boss at this time. He was responsible for my paycheck. But I unloaded on him with what might be deemed extremely “colorful” language. He had the attitude “hey, no big deal.” I was trembling so badly I couldn't hold a pencil.  I think that was the most terrified I have ever been in my life. Now, is that the end of this event…no sir! If you go east from Tuba City, the State Highway to Shiprock, New Mexico, goes up hill.  What Pat and I did next was, I put on my red lights. Pat got, in his plane and with me leading; he taxied out to the highway, and then east on the highway until he was high enough to look over the top the clouds covering the Tuba City area. I stopped the traffic and Pat roared down the highway and made his way to Flagstaff to keep his commitments there. 

We had a wonderful staff at Police Headquarters in Window Rock. People like Laura Bennett, Georganne, Plumber, Elsie Pinto, Velma Maddox, Kenna Clayton, Neal Moore, Larry Glover, Clarence Hawthorne, Frank Adakai, Virgil Kirk, et al. They all revered Pat and appreciated his administrative capabilities as did I. He moved Law Enforcement on the Navajo Reservation from a “rag‑tag” group of men into a respected, qualified, uniformed, and capable Police force. He made the department sensitive to the needs of the people. He established  police Districts in Window Rock, Shiprock, Crown Point, Chinle and Tuba City.  He then added to the five Districts, thirty four Sub‑Stations out among the people. In addition to keeping the Reservation’s peace, our officer's transported messages where no telephone service exists. They transported hospital patients who had recovered, back to their families. The Officer's were “first aid” qualified and became the peoples first contact when illness or injury occurred. 

Pat was an essential element in the lives of the Navajo People for over a decade. We in law enforcement appreciate what he did for the Navajo’s and for all of us who worked with him. He made the world a better Place.