SHELL ROCK, IA, US
SPC, HHC, 1ST BN, 133RD INF RGT, 2ND BCT, 34TH INF DIVISION, WATERLOO, IA
04/13/2011, MEHTAR LAM D., AFGHANISTAN
Army Specialist Donald L. Nichols died in Mehtar Lam district, Afghanistan on April 13, 2011 of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, Iowa Army National Guard, Waterloo, Iowa. The unit was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. Specialist Nichols’s older brother was also stationed in Afghanistan with an Army Reserve unit.
Joe Nichols flew home on the airplane that also carried his brother’s body. He would serve as a pallbearer for his brother. He notes: “If I would have known that I was going to be 10,000 feet in the air, on a plane with my little brother’s body under my feet, I would go back to every time we ever got a chance to talk to each other and tell him how much I respected and loved him. And he should never look up to me, but I should look up to him because he is a true hero.”
Specialist Nichols joined the Army during his junior year of high school. He had been an instructor in charge of preparing his unit for its arrival in Afghanistan in October 2010. He was proud to be where he was surrounded by his team-mates. It was well known that Donald Nichols always pushed himself to be better, motivating those around him and exceeding standards. On one mission, when Nichols severely injured his knee, he turned down offers to carry his rucksack because he wanted to carry his own weight. The twenty-one year old resident of Shell Rock, Iowa loved Jeeps, the Minnesota Vikings and the Army. His bravery and never-quit bravery, never-quit attitude was out there for all to see.
His high school sweetheart noted “He wanted to do so much.”
He is remembered for his cheerfulness and was always up for an all-night poker game. He seemed to bring his own unique light to his platoon and was quick with a funny piece of sarcasm, ready for some karaoke and understood the importance of laughter. Donald Nichols is survived by his mother and stepfather, his father and stepmother, his brothers, and his grandmothers, and his grandfather. Those who knew Donald Nichols would find him in a quote he lived by: “It’s not how hard you get knocked down, it’s about how quick you get up and keep on fighting.”