Bryan J Nichols
August 6, 2011
Killed in Wardak province, Afghanistan, when their CH-47 Chinook helicopter was shot down.
|CW2 Bryan Joseph Nichols, 31, died August 6, 2011 near Combat Outpost Sayed Abad, Afghanistan due to hostile enemy action. Bryan was born October 16, 1979 in Hays, the son of Douglas and Cynthia (Karlin) Nichols. On October 7, 2006 he married Mary Hammerbacher in Frontenac, Kansas. Bryan was a 1998 graduate of TMP-Marian High School in Hays and enlisted in the Army in 1996. He was deployed twice in Iraq, once in 2002 and again in 2003, and once in Kosovo in 2004. He graduated flight school in 2008 and was a Chief Warrant Officer with the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion). Survivors include his wife, Mary, of the home, in Kansas City, Missouri; son, Braydon Nichols, of Kansas City, KS; parents, Douglas and Cynthia Nichols, of Palco, Kansas; brothers, Monte and wife Angie Nichols, of Cypress, TX, Brandon and wife Heather Nichols, of Sierra Vista, AZ, sister, Nicole and husband Roy Robles, of San Diego, CA, and nieces and nephews, Farra, Natalie, Ellen, Abby, Cole, and Chase. He was preceded in death by grandparents, Carl and Alma Nichols, and Joe E. and Marcella Karlin. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m., on Friday, August 19, 2011 at the TMP- Marian Fieldhouse in Hays. Burial with military honors will be in the Pleasantview Cemetery, Palco, KS. Visitation will be from 4-8 p.m., on Thursday, at the TMP-Marian Fieldhouse and from 9 a.m. until 9:30 a.m., on Friday, at the Hays Memorial Chapel Funeral Home, 1906 Pine. A parish vigil service will be at 7 p.m., on Thursday, at the Fieldhouse. Memorials are suggested to Braydon Nichols education fund or to TMP-Marian High School, in care of the funeral home. Condolences may be left for the family at www.haysmemorial.com.
Published in Kansas City Star on Aug. 14, 2011
|From cable news Network cnn.com 08/09/11:
Fallen pilot's 10-year-old: Don't forget my dad
By Ashley Fantz, CNN
August 9, 2011 1:43 p.m. EDT
(CNN) -- A week ago, 10-year-old Braydon Nichols started to think about his dad and how much he missed him.
Army Chief Warrant Officer Bryan Nichols, a helicopter pilot, had been deployed for two months in Afghanistan.
The little boy, in the car with his mother running errands, brushed back his dirty-blond hair and ran his hand over his cheek.
Jessica Nichols looked over when she heard sniffles. Her son was crying.
"When is Dad coming back so we go camping?" he asked her.
Soon, she assured him. "Your dad is off fighting for this country."
The boy replied, "As soon as he gets home, we're going to go on a camping trip, just me and him."
Jessica Nichols cannot stop replaying that scene in her mind. That's because only a few days later, on Saturday night, she was cradling her boy who was crying once again. Except this time she could not tell him that his father was coming home. She had just received a call informing her that Bryan Nichols was one of the 30 Americans who died that afternoon when their Chinook helicopter was shot down in Wardak province in east-central Afghanistan.
"It was just so devastating that a week ago or so Braydon had that worried look on his face, thinking about his dad," she said.
"Braydon and Bryan were so connected. Braydon was like a little version of his dad."
Bryan Nichols and Jessica Nichols met in sixth grade. Bryan was a born military buff. His father was a soldier and served in Vietnam. Bryan enlisted in the military before high school graduation. A few years later, he and Jessica married and had Braydon.
Bryan worked his way up through the military ranks.
"He always wanted to be in the Army," she said. "He came across the Chinook and was so fascinated. His father flew Chinooks."
Bryan Nichols did three deployments during their marriage. It proved to be too much for their relationship, she said. They divorced when Braydon was 3, but remained close to raise Braydon.
Bryan remarried, and his new wife and Jessica all got along. They all loved and cared for Braydon, she said.
It was Bryan's wife, Mary, who contacted Jessica Saturday night to say that Bryan had died. "She was screaming," Jessica said. "She was screaming that Bryan was dead."
Jessica couldn't believe what she was hearing. She hung up. Her heart was beating hard. Braydon was in his room, still awake and playing.
Jessica walked toward the room, and stood by his door for a moment, overcome with grief.
"I went to my room and tried to figure out what was going on," she said.
Jessica pulled herself together as best she could and phoned her brother who lives nearby. He came to her house to support her.
Together, they called Braydon downstairs.
In his pajamas, Braydon stood in front of his mother and uncle.
"I said, 'Braydon, do you know much your dad loves you? Do you know how proud of you he is?"
Before she could say anything more, the boy wilted in her arms, sobbing.
"I said, 'I'm sorry ... your ... dad died."
The mother and son held each other and cried. An hour, maybe, went by. At one point Braydon got off the couch and ambled over to a Shih Tzu puppy, Lucy, that his mother bought him when his father got deployed.
He held the dog for awhile. Then he fell asleep for a bit, and she went out to their porch.
The night gave way to day.
On Sunday morning, Jessica and Braydon Nichols watched the national news broadcast the first reports about the downing of a Chinook helicopter. They listened to reporters say that 38 U.S. and Afghan service personnel were killed, including 22 Navy SEALs. It was the single deadliest loss for American troops since the war in Afghanistan began in late 2001.
"Braydon asked me why they weren't showing his dad's picture like they were showing some of the other guys," Jessica Nichols told CNN.com. "I told him it was because people had gone online and were posting photos."
That gave the boy an idea. The two went to the family computer. She pulled up
Braydon started saying, "iReport! iReport!"
Like his father, Braydon is an information sponge. He's always on the hunt for facts, his loves the computer, and he likes watching the news, his mother said. Braydon knew that he could post something about his dad on CNN.com's iReport.
So Jessica Nichols went to the iReport home page. Her son told her what to write.
"My father was one of the 30 US Soldiers killed in Afghanistan yesterday with the Seals rescue mission," she typed. "My father was the pilot of the chinook. I have seen other pictures of victims from this deadly mission and wish you would include a picture of my father. He is the farthest to the left."
See the iReport Braydon posted
He told her to sign his name.
Within hours, the iReport had become viral. Local news outlets across the country reported on it. More than 10,000 people on Facebook re-posted it. Twitter was abuzz about it. Many people left comments, expressing their sorrow for Braydon and telling him to be strong and that his father is a hero.
CNN.com began trying to get in touch with the person who posted the iReport to verify it, first reaching the boy's aunt. Sue Keller of Palco, Kansas, told CNN late Monday night that the boy wanted the country to remember his father not just as a soldier but as a dad.
Home and Away: Share your tributes to Chief Warrant Officer Nichols
On Monday night, Braydon's mother told him that a lot of people were talking about his iReport.
"He didn't say anything," she said. "He's been reading it over and over. He doesn't understand the people can post comments so I'm telling him that people are trying to talk to him. He just looks at the comments and then he walks away.
"He says, 'Mom, can we go watch a movie?'"
Late Monday night, Jessica Nichols said she couldn't find her son for a moment. He had disappeared in the house. She was yelling for him.
She found him in a closet, curled up on the floor, crying, going through a box of photo albums.
The boy said he wanted to take one of the photos and put it in his wallet.
He asked her, "'Can we go to be with Dad?'"
She replied that they would go to his father's funeral and they would be there for anything and everything the boy wanted.
"He said, 'Yeah, I'd like to go be with him when he comes home, and I said, 'OK, we will be.'"
CNN's Moni Basu contributed to this report.
|Reservist ‘had no enemies’
The Associated Press
Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Bryan Nichols, 31, a pilot from Kansas City, Mo., was eager to get back to flying after a stint handling paperwork as a unit administrator.
So when the word went out that people were needed to train for a mobilization, Nichols volunteered.
Nichols was one of three of the crew members aboard the downed Chinook from the same Army reserve unit — Bravo Company, 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, based at Gardner, Kan. — killed Aug. 6 when a Chinook helicopter went down in Afghanistan, killing 30 U.S. troops.
Lt. Col. Richard Sherman, former commander of Nichols’ unit, said one of his favorite memories is flying a pace car with Nichols to Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.
“My happiest and saddest memories are now tied to him,” said Sherman, who was in command and working as an instructional pilot when Nichols joined his unit.
“He had no enemies. He was one everyone wanted to be around. You just liked flying with him because you knew he was going to improve as a young pilot and get better every time you flew with him.”
|Funeral set for Kan. soldier in helicopter crash
The Associated Press
HAYS, Kan. — A Kansas soldier who died when the helicopter he was flying was shot down in Afghanistan will be memorialized this week in his hometown of Hays.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Bryan Nichols was among 30 U.S. troops killed Aug. 6 in the crash of the CH-47 Chinook helicopter.
The 31-year-old pilot grew up in Hays and graduated from Thomas More Prep-Marian High School. The Hays Daily News reports (http://bit.ly/qBYH7 ) the funeral will be held Friday morning in the school's fieldhouse.
Nichols and his family lived in Kansas City, Mo. He served with the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment based at the New Century AirCenter in Gardner, Kan.
Two other reservists from the unit — 23-year-old Spc. Alexander Bennett, of Overland Park, and 21-year-old Spc. Spencer Duncan, of Olathe — also died in the crash.
|Pilot killed in Afghanistan Chinook crash honored in hometown
The Associated Press
HAYS, Kan. — An Army pilot who died when his helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan is being honored with highway signs in his northwest Kansas hometown.
State officials and relatives of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Bryan Nichols were on hand for Wednesday’s unveiling of the signs in Hays.
The signs will designate the junction of Interstate 70 and U.S. 183 as the “CW2 Bryan J. Nichols Fallen Veterans Memorial Interchange.” Kansas lawmakers approved the honors earlier this year.
Nichols, 31, was flying a Chinook helicopter on Aug. 6 when it was shot down in eastern Afghanistan. He and 29 other service members on board were killed, including 22 Navy SEALS and three Air Force special operations personnel.
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