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S: Corporal Donald R. Nichols, USMC

BC: This publication is dedicated to the dearest people in my life, my family: My wife Karen and our children Jason, Brent, Nick, and Ree. May these photos always serve as a keepsake value to each of them. DRN | Donald R. Nichols as he appeared in December 1968 when he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. | Lieutenant Colonel Nichols as he appeared after retiring from the U.S. Army in December 1997.

FC: Corporal Donald R. Nichols United States Marine Corps Service Dates: Active (January 1969-August 1970) Inactive (September 1970-January 1974)

1: Donald R. Nichols enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, at Jackson, Mississippi in December 1968 while a student at Mississippi College, in Clinton, MS. He was sent to Parris Island, South Carolina, for basic training, in January 1969. From there he was assigned to Camp Geiger, North Carolina, for advanced infantry training. After this duty, in June, he was given thirty days leave back to his home in Delhi, Louisiana. Donald reported to Camp Pendleton, at Oceanside, California in late June. There he participated in several weeks of staging training prior to being flown to Kadena Air Force Base on Okinawa and then on to DaNang, Vietnam. Upon arrival in that country, in late July 1969, he was assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, of the First Marine Division. As an anti-armor weapons specialist, PFC Nichols was placed in first platoon of the line company as a rifleman. At that time his platoon and company were performing combat duty along with the other companies of the battalion. They were operating in an Area of Operations (AO) known as the "Arizona Territory". First Battalion (and Company B) were running day and night patrols and search and destroy missions near Hot Dog hill (4 kilometers northwest of An Hoa Combat Base). After intense combat actions around Hot Dog hill (12-14 August) 1st Battalion relocated to Hill 63 (Landing Zone Baldy) some 25 miles south of DaNang, adjacent to Highway One at the intersection of Route 535. In November, First Battalion left LZ Baldy and relocated to LZ Ross (16 miles due west of Hill 63 on Route 535). Christmas 1969 was spent on LZ Ross. During February 1970, the battalion rotated back to Hill 63. During these months, Donald ran daily resupply convoys between Baldy and Ross. A convoy was usually comprised of 6 to 8 two and a half ton cargo trucks escorted by tanks or heavily armored trucks called "war wagons". Donald's tour ended in late July 1970 when he left the battalion and returned to the states. His last duty assignment and separation station was the Marine Corps depot at San Diego, California. From there he was honorably discharged and returned to his parents home at Delhi, Louisiana, in August 1970.

2: Eternal Vigil: Ready they stand with weapons at hand. Observation: Eyes focused, ears open. Attentive as watchmen on the wall they stand. While others sleep yet still they guard. Nocturnal devotion to those they protect. As sentries of heedfulness they ignore the heat, ice, and winds. Determination is their relentless factor Because they know we still have their back.

3: Private Donald R. Nichols arrived at the United States Marine Corps Recruit Training Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina, late at night on 9 January 1969. The impact of that night was anticipated to alter one's thinking, for a time. But its pursuing months and years shaped a lifetime and an ultimate course of living. It replaced childhood and adolescents with perspectives possessed and understood only by those who have likewise endured. Life before that providential night has been reduced to a dimly flickering and distant amber light. Since that night the light has grown to a torrent flame of life filled with purpose, direction, and pursuit of the eternal.

4: Demonstrating Pupil Basics Ready, he stands with weapon at hand. Eyes focused. Ears open. Screaming at the top of his lungs. | Parris Island, South Carolina January 1969 | Split Coat Photo Like everything else in basic training there was a strict time schedule to be followed when taking platoon photos. So, how do you get 150 Marines through the photo line in less than an hour? Rip the back out of the dress blue jackets for quick on-off changing. Then one-size-fits-all headgear; thus, the first formal Marine photo is taken for all posterity.

5: Armed Drill Practice PVT Nichols is second squad leader. | Regimental Track Meet PVT Nichols takes the baton for the last leg of the mile relay and first pace victory. | Iwo Jima Monument Parris Island, SC | Battalion Inspection PVT Nichols stands ready for the colonel's passing. | Battalion Inspection PVT Nichols stands ready for the colonel's passing.

6: Drill Instructors (DI) for Basic Training Platoon 219 From left to right: Sergeant Tommy Chandler, Staff Sergeant J.L. Boyles, and Gunnery Sergeant Charles D. Allsbrooks, | These five Marines enlisted with along with Donald R. Nichols in Jackson, Mississippi, in December 1968. The six of them flew together to Parris Island and spent the entire thirteen weeks together in Platoon 219. They are: Top row, left to right) - David S. Downing (Jackson, MS), William Fulmer (Jackson, MS), and Donald Klim (Vicksburg, MS); Bottom row, left to right - Gary Mosely and Jimmy Ray Smith (Jackson, MS).

7: Battalion Inspection PVT Nichols stands ready for the colonel's passing. | Parris Island, South Carolina 9 January-6 April 1969 | Platoon 219 Graduation Day 6 April 1969 | Departure Day for Camp Geiger, North Carolina 7 April 1969 | Sgt. Chandler announcing new duty stations. 7 April 1969 | GySgt. Allsbrooks overseeing turn-in of equipment. 7 April 1969

8: Camp Geiger was a training base used for teaching advanced infantry skills, weapons skills, and tactical maneuvering. All Marines underwent this focus on small unit deployment, team building, basic leadership skills, and familiarization with a variety weapons used in all infantry operations. | Camp Geiger, North Carolina (7 April-1 June 1969) | Morning After: The first field bivouac. | Eternal Vigil: Ready they stand with weapons at hand. Observation: Eyes focused, ears open. Attentive as watchmen on the wall they stand. While others sleep yet still they guard. Nocturnal devotion to those they protect. As sentries of heedfulness they ignore the heat, ice, and winds. Determination is their relentless fact Because they know we have their back. | Private Donald R. Nichols arrived at the United States Marine Corps Recruit Training Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina, late at night on 9 January 1969. The impact of that night was anticipated to alter one's thinking. But its pursuing months and years shaped a lifetime and a course of living. It replaced childhood and adolescents with perspectives possessed and understood only by those who have likewise endured. Life before that providential night became a dimly flickering and distant amber. Since, the flame of life since has been filled with purpose, direction, and pursuit of the eternal.

9: Camp Geiger... PFC Nichols served as platoon Sergeant for forty-five fellow Marines during the months of training with Romeo Company and the Infantry Training Regiment. (April-May 1969) | Weekend Pass Camp Pendleton, CA and Staging prior to going to Vietnam (July 1969)

10: Eternal Vigil: Ready they stand with weapons at hand. Observation: Eyes focused, ears open. Attentive as watchmen on the wall they stand. While others sleep yet still they guard. Nocturnal devotion to those they protect. As sentries of heedfulness they ignore the heat, ice, and winds. Determination is their relentless fact Because they know we have their back. | Private Donald R. Nichols arrived at the United States Marine Corps Recruit Training Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina, late at night on 9 January 1969. The impact of that night was anticipated to alter one's thinking. But its pursuing months and years shaped a lifetime and a course of living. It replaced childhood and adolescents with perspectives possessed and understood only by those who have likewise endured. Life before that providential night became a dimly flickering and distant amber. Since, the flame of life since has been filled with purpose, direction, and pursuit of the eternal. | Camp Geiger, North Carolina (7 April-1 June 1969) | Staff Sergeant Marsh Platoon Sergeant Company B, Infantry Training Regiment | Staff Sergeant May Platoon Sergeant Company R, Infantry Training Regiment | (Above) Company B Student Training Command: Kneeling from left to right are: PFC Nichols (Platoon Sergeant), PFC Acosta. Standing from left to right are: PFC Fugazy, PFC Cline, PFC Manguno, and PFC Carr.

11: Most Training... was preceded by traditional classroom sessions from inside buildings or in outside field bleaches. | Weekend Pass From Camp Pendleton to Disneyland, Anaheim, CA; (July 1969)

12: Stack Arms A military term for standing a number of rifles together with bayonets crossing one another to form a conical stand or pile. In Vietnam the term was used to identify and established rest centers exclusively used by rifle companies of the 1st Marine Division. This Stack Arms site was located on the beach south of DaNang, RVN. Company B and 1st Battalion 7th Marine Regiment used it throughout August 1969, after leaving the Arizona Territory Area of Operation. | First Marine Division Upon arrival in DaNang, Republic of Vietnam, PFC Nichols was assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. Major General Orman Simpson was Divisional Commander. Colonel G. Cosdespoti was Regimental Commander. Lieutenant Colonel John A. Dowd was Battalion Commander. 1st Lieutenant Allen Weh was Company B Commander. 2nd Lieutenant W.A. Campbell was First Platoon Leader. (28 July 1969-28 July 1970) | Corporal Nichols and his ever present interpreter, Micky. On LZ Baldy (Hill 63) in the Spring of 1970.

13: Lance Corporal Nichols at the battalion's movie screen backdrop on LZ Baldy (Hill 63) in the Spring of 1970. | An abandoned pagoda at the R&R center south of Marble Mt. in August 1969. | Corporal Nichols sitting on a large rock overlooking LZ Baldy (Hill 63) in the Spring of 1970.

14: PFC Nichols came down with malaria in late September 1969 and was medivaced from the field to the USS Repose in the South China Sea and later flown to the U.S. Army 6th Convalescent Center in Cam Ranh Bay for recuperation (650 miles south of DaNang). While spending three weeks at the center, PFC Nichols met a former college friend who work at the center, Army SP5 H.L. Fisher. SP5 Fisher took the photos on this page.

15: In March '70 Corporal Nichols was assigned to the battalion's (S5) Civil Affairs section and remained there until his rotation back to the States in July. Here he on an assignment in Hoi An, May 1970.

16: Landing Zone or Fire Support Base Ross (as seen from the air). | There was a lot of waiting for the mine sweepers. | Lance Corporal Nichols conducted daily resupply convoys from LZ Ross to LZ Baldy (over Route 535) from December '69 to March '70. A round trip covered 32 miles. Each day that distance of roadway was cleared by the battalion's mine sweeping section before the convoy of trucks and tanks were allowed to make their run. | Waiting for the mine sweepers to finish their work so the resupply trucks could roll.

17: A tank leads the way for the convoy as it exits the front gate at LZ Ross. | Convoy route through a village. | Villagers along the convoy route. | Rice fields along the convoy route. | Rice fields along the convoy route.

18: A community market site established by the battalion Civil Affairs section (S5). | This church was located just outside the perimeter of LZ/FSB Ross. Lance Corporal Nichols spent Christmas Eve 1969 at the church attending a Christmas Carol presentation by local Vietnamese children. | An aerial view of LZ Ross

19: First Battalion's cantonment site on LZ Baldy (Hill 63). The hill was the home of the Seventh Regiment from August '69 until after Corporal Nichols departed back to the States in July '70. | Corporal Kevin C. Koranda and Corporal Nichols served together in Company B and H&S Company. They were buddies. Kevin was from San Clementy, CA. | An aerial view of LZ Ross

20: Corporal Nichols was assigned to H&S Company during the spring of 1970. During this period he participated in battalion night airmobile, river clearing, and aerial resupply operations. | Area of Operation around LZ Baldy during the Spring of 1970

21: Corporal Nichols delivered mail and resupplies to field units by riding the Marine CH46 Sea Knights.

22: An aerial view of LZ Baldy (Hill 63) | Corporal Nichols' last day and last ride on Highway One, just south of DaNang headed north to the First Marine Division's Headquarters | Corporal Nichols' last day and last view of the First Marine Division's Headquarters

23: Corporal Nichols' last night in Vietnam. | Corporal Nichols flew from DaNang to Kadena Air Force Base on Okinawa. | Corporal Nichols left Kadena AFB on this plane and flew to Japan and then on to Anchorage, Alaska, USA; before flying to San Diego, CA. | The airport at Anchorage, Alaska, USA, July 1970.

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