HOLLIS R. NICHOLS|
World War II
Memories and Biography
(Taken from a letter to Will Lundy written by Dottie Nichols, Hollis' wife)
September 1, 2002
About two years ago I was approached by the historical of the Nile Shrine Temple to write as best I could about Shriner H. R. Nichols' war experience. The enclosure was published in our Shrine newspaper Smile with Nile, written from some sparse notes Nic made regarding his last mission, his internment, and his escape. I hope it will be of some value.
Then there is another part of the story submitted and sent to me by Fred Greuter, now living in Alaska.
Enclosed are negatives, some pictures and additional notes explaining what those items are.
Fred Greuter's letter has one or two corrections, which are self-explanatory. It's interesting how small the world has become. How amazing to hear from a person who I've never met and who watched a plane fall from the sky 57 years before only to find out the pilot was, at that time, my fiancée!!! I'm sure Nic would have been thrilled to meet this man.
Fred's account of the pilot, crew and the "Paper Doll" has not been published in the Smile with Nile paper as of now. The historian died suddenly. He never read Fred's account of that day. Then I ran into some problems of my own and as of now, I have not met the new replacement historian. I will, hopefully soon, offer Fred's writing but whether or not he will be of a mind to use it remains to be seen. For Fred's sake, I hope he will publish it as a follow-up to my article.
Following Nic's return from the war, we were married and eventually stationed at Hickam Field, Nic flying with ATC in the Pacific. He also flew the North Atlantic run for awhile. His health failed enough that he was "grounded," a heart breaker of him. In late 1948, he separated from the Air Force and was recalled to active duty in 1950. He had attended Adjutant General School before 1948 so his duty this time was that of adjutant to the 91st Fighter Squadron of the 81st Fighter Wing stationed at Bent Waters in England. We were quite close to Norwich though never made a visit there. In 1953, we came home again. Nic then took on the duties of Adjutant of his reserve unit at Seattle's Sand Point Naval Air Station retiring as a Lt. Col. with 26 years to his credit.
He died in December 1984 of lung cancer with which he battled for three and a half years though six months was the forecast - he wanted so much to live. What a guy! He was only 63 years old.
He loved the service and tried to become a "regular" - he was terribly disappointed when he didn't make it, but settled to become assistant to the department head of the County Elections Department. He lobbied the Washing State Legislature to make election law changes he computerized the registered voters of Seattle and King County into one file and on and on. He worked endless hours the last years of his life all of which gave no help or comfort to his devastating illness. He retired in 1982 and I retired from my job with the Superior Court in 1983 to be with him the last year of his life. He is still missed not only by his family but by those who knew him and who worked with him.
An interesting side note having to do with a recent communication from Fred Greuter. HE apparently has no relationship or communication with one of his siblings, a brother still living in Switzerland. This brother has a prop from Nic's plane!!! How I wish we had it! Fred recently went to Switzerland to visit a sister but I know nothing of more recent events.
I attended the 50th Reunion of the 81st Fighter Wing in September 2001 at Bent Waters Air Base and Ipswich. Looking back, maybe I should have made a side trip?!
P.S. After reading about Irene and Will Lundy, I wonder should I add anything about our chance meeting - a Bellingham, WA boy loose in the big city of New York. Just thought I should ask?! - before assuming anything.