1LT James F. Nichols, Jr.
95th Infantry Division, 358th FABn in support of the 378th Infantry Regiment
Killed in Action 5 March, 1945
near Cologne, Germany
-- Susan Nichols Linville --
"By direction of the President . . . the Air Medal is awarded to Lt. James F. Nichols, Jr for meritorious achievement while participating
in aerial flights from 10 November 1944 to 13 November 1944, over Uckange, France.
"Due to the flooded condition of the Moselle River . . . it became impossible to supply by normal methods two isolated companies of the 377th
infantry. Heavy small arms, mortar and artillery fire from the enemy nullified attempts to carry supplies across the river by boat.
"Finally, liaisons planes of the 95th Division Artillery were employed on the hazardous mission of supply. The small, unarmed planes flew at
an altitude of approximately one hundred feet over ground held by the enemy and, despite hostile fire, successfully dropped their cargo to the
"On this occasion. Lt. Nichols, pilot of one of the liaison planes, distinguished himself by courageous achievement in keeping with the highest
tradition of the armed forces of the United States."
Signed: Major General Harry L. Twaddle
Dated: 23 November 1944
This letter defines the essence, the heart and soul, of the man who was my daddy. He excelled in scholastics, athletics and in life. As a
youth he was involved in kite flying, kayaking, baseball, golf, handball and swimming. The DAILY OKLAHOMAN recorded many of his athletic feats.
One of the first was of his scoring a "perfect 1000 points" for his efforts, which included 400 sit-ups, chinning, standing broad-jump, running
high-jump and shot put, at age 14, at a state high school meet. There are so many photos of him in so many different sports, I think the DAILY
OKLAHOMAN camera had a love-affair with my very photogenic dad. One of the last athletic events recorded was an AAU event at Texas A & M, in which
my dad's 4-man free style swim team from the Oklahoma City YMCA beat four colleges also in the event to win the gold.
Dad graduated from Central HS at the age of sixteen and enrolled in Oklahoma City College in the fall of 1935, attending classes there for two and
a half years. He postponed completion of college in 1938, when he fell in love with and married my mother. My mother says of my dad, "He was
like Will Rogers, he never met a man he didnŐt like or who didn't like him. He loved life. If he had a fault, it was in his generosity to others."
In early 1941, my parents, and my 9 mos. old self, moved to Long Beach, California. My dad had been offered a job in ship-building yards in Long Beach
and the pay was much greater than he was making in OKC. We were in Long Beach when Pearl Harbor was bombed and my mother recalls that on the Monday
after Pearl Harbor, "your dad moved heaven and earth to enlist in the Army Air Corp." Not only was he married with a child, but he was also in a
protected industry since much of our naval fleet lay sunken in Hawaii. His request to enlist was denied.
Not to be deterred from serving his country in time of war, we returned Oklahoma City where he enlisted in the Army and trained to fly Piper Cubs as a
liaison or reconnaissance pilot. Upon completion of flight school at Ft. Sill, OK, he was transferred to Indiantown Gap, PA. There he was assigned
to the 95th Infantry Division and promoted from Staff Sergeant to 2nd Lieutenant. The 95th called themselves the "Victory Division" as their insignia
badge consists of a "9" beneath the Roman numeral "V." They proved themselves worthy of that name when they captured Metz, France - a walled city of
70,000 people that had been impregnable for 1,500 years. With the fall of Metz the 95th Infantry Division became known as the "Ironmen of Metz."
It was during this battle that Dad volunteered to drop supplies to the two stranded Companies of the 377th infantry regiment. Between Metz and Rheinhausen,
Germany, my dad was promoted to 1st Lieutenant and received four Oak Leaf Clusters in addition to having been awarded the Air Medal. "Meritorious
achievement and courage" was how he lived all of his 25 years, not just how he served his country. He met life's challenges with humor, grit and heart;
with everything he had to give, including his life.
I am proud to be the daughter, the only child, of this valiant citizen warrior. Everyone needs heroes - he will always be mine.