Washington, November 11, 2018
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes issued the following statement today:
“It is with deep sorrow that I inform you that Damon Nelson, the staff director of the House Intelligence Committee, passed away yesterday at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Maryland following a brief illness.
Damon dedicated nearly his entire adult life to public service. He served as an in-flight refueling specialist for the U.S. Air Force and was a veteran of the Persian Gulf War, for which he earned an Air Medal and three Air Achievement Medals. Damon took immense pride in his military service, and it was in the Air Force that he met his wonderful wife Dana, a fellow service-member who became a close friend of many of our staff members.
I worked continuously with Damon for my entire congressional career. He was hired as my legislative director when I first joined Congress in 2003, and he later became deputy chief of staff. In those positions he was a tireless advocate for improving the California water supply and established himself as one of our region’s preeminent experts on that complicated issue. In 2015 he moved to the Intelligence Committee and a year later became staff director.
Damon was well-known for his deep knowledge of government affairs and his enthusiasm for helping others around Capitol Hill—particularly interns and entry-level staffers. Even after he assumed the immense responsibilities of leading the Intelligence Committee staff, he served as a mentor for countless college students and recent graduates looking for their first job in government service. He always had an encouraging word for young job seekers and was always willing to make a call or forward a resume to help them get their careers started.
Damon enjoyed particular loyalty and affection from staffers both in my personal office and on the Intelligence Committee. I doubt there’s a single staff member from either office whom Damon didn’t help in matters both large and small. He was a friend, mentor, and boss for dozens of colleagues who deeply loved him and were fiercely protective of him.
Having known Damon all the way back to our days together at Tulare Union High School, I have lost one of my oldest friends—someone whom my wife, my three daughters, and I regarded as an extended family member. My offices will no longer ring with Damon’s infectious laugh, which brightened the mood on even the most stressful days. He was an expert at finding the humor in any situation and was quick with a well-timed joke. He exhibited a rare combination of good humor, hard work, incredible intelligence, deep patriotism, and selfless dedication to others that made him one of the most exceptional people I’ve ever met.
Damon will be long remembered and deeply missed. Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers.”
A scholarship fund in Damon’s honor is being established for graduates of Tulare Union High School to attend the College of the Sequoias in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Contributions can be sent to the Damon P. Nelson Memorial Scholarship Fund online at cos.edu/foundation (click on the link, then the yellow “donate” button, then fill out the form, filling in “Damon P. Nelson Scholarship Fund” in the gift designation box). Alternately, checks can be mailed to the Damon P. Nelson Memorial Scholarship Fund, COS Foundation, 915 S. Mooney Blvd., Visalia, CA 93277.