The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX


June 1, 2011

Marine veteran to receive Silver Star — 60 years later

GREENVILLE — His award took 60 years to get here, but Dr. James Nicholson, Greenville physician, was notified last week by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus that he has been awarded the Silver Star medal “for gallantry in action on 22 April 1951.”

Nicholson served as a Browning Automatic Rifleman, G  Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division during the Korean War

The citation reads: “During the late evening hours,  Corporal (then Private First Class) Nicholson’s fire team came under intense enemy fire by a numerically superior enemy force. Despite being surrounded, Corporal Nicholson and his team courageously applied suppressive fire against the enemy, resulting in numerous enemy casualties. Although equipped with a malfunctioning weapon, he advanced under furious enemy automatic weapons fire and hand grenades to retrieve a seriously wounded Marine. Corporal Nicholson’s outstanding courage and daring initiative was a constant source of inspiration to his fire team, squad, and platoon. His determination and daring, despite overwhelming enemy fire, directly resulted in the return of a seriously wounded Marine to a safe area and the ability of his platoon to hold the high ground in the face of superior enemy numbers. Corporal Nicholson was personally responsible for drawing the fire of and destroying a particularly effective enemy machine gun with fire from his Browning Automatic Rifle. By his selfless determination, daring initiative, and complete dedication to duty, Corporal Nicholson reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.”

Nicholson said that following the action described in the citation, his platoon leader had told him “he was giving me the Silver Star. The guys who heard him presumed I got it, and the last thing I was thinking about was a piece of paper.”

In the commotion of battle, the recommendation for the award was never forwarded to the proper authorities.

Years later Dr. Joe Webber of Texas A&M University-Commerce, a friend and former Marine himself (although from a different time), was in San Diego where he met some buddies of Nicholson from the 1st Marine Division, George Company. The men were attending a 46-year reunion, and in an exchange of stories, Webber learned that Nicholson was entitled to a Silver Star but had never received it.

Nicholson himself had not pursued the issue, but he said Webber “took it as a life mission” to get the affidavits necessary for the citation to be approved.

Webber secured affidavits from all the survivors who described Nicholson’s actions in detail, and he was even able to locate the platoon officer in question.

Initially Webber was informed by the government that such an award was not possible after so many years, but as Nicholson said, “Dr. Webber pounded on the door and made himself a nuisance” until the citation was approved.

On learning of the award, Nicholson said, “I was in disbelief that Dr. Webber had finally overcome a bureaucracy, and I feel deep gratitude to all my buddies who were eyewitnesses and for all the affidavits they filled out and for their perseverance.”

A date for a formal presentation of the Silver Star medal has not yet been set, but Nicholson said it will probably be sometime in August.

Six months after the action described in his citation, Nicholson was severely wounded in the back and was flown out of the battle zone by helicopter. In what seems to be almost a repeat of bureaucratic entanglements, he was never awarded a Purple Heart.

Nicholson said he was married and well into medical school when his wife, Wanda, questioned why he did not have the medal as did others who had been wounded. Convinced that this oversight should be corrected, she wrote a letter pointing out the error, and he eventually received the medal.

“It took it seven years to catch up to me,” Nicholson said, chuckling.

So now through the efforts and concern of Marine friends and his own family, James Nicholson who didn’t want to make a fuss about it himself, finally has the awards he so richly deserves.

As the Marines say to one another, “Semper fi.”

Text Only
  • Beekeepers.jpg Using combs for their curly hair

    Two little 7-year-old Hunt County twins are the sweetest girls around, and they have the honey to prove it.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Children’s Hope coming to county

    Emma Casselton worked for the state of Texas as a foster adoption specialist for 16 years, facilitating more than 1,000 adoptions of local children.

    July 11, 2014

  • IMG_0178.jpg Pastor reflects on 30 years serving Commerce church

    A congregation tends to reflect the views of its pastor.

    July 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • Father's_Day_1.jpg A short history of Father's Day

    There are more than 70 million fathers in the United States today. 

    June 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • 7 Sunday Follies_Brunch_story.jpg Establishing the heart of Hunt County

    Every two years, the Greenville Follies holds a huge stage production to help raise funds for a local community nonprofit.

    June 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Preston_Tarrant.jpg Parents hope Greenville can help give Preston a lift

    Before the parents of 11-year-old Preston Tarrant received the news that their son had a form of muscular dystrophy, they weren’t even aware that any such disease existed.

    May 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • CM_Angela_Franklin_2-1.jpg Making a career out of volunteerism

    Angela Franklin is a wife, a mother and a grandmother, but she could also be considered a cheerleader for volunteerism in the Greenville area.

    May 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Birthing_Center_sign.jpg At local birthing center, it is Mother’s Day every day

    The structure sits in the middle of a quiet residential neighborhood not far from downtown Greenville.
    If not for the sign in front advertising the home as “The Baby Place Birthing Center”, anyone passing by would likely have no idea that it is a facility where mothers come to deliver their children.

    May 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pastor_Ratliff_feature.1.jpg A promise fulfilled

    A little more than 30 years ago, as he was crossing the bridge over Lake Ray Hubbard, Senior Pastor Roger Ratliff of Vansickle Baptist Church received a calling from God, reminding him to fulfill a promise he had made years earlier to join the ministry.

    April 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Scott_Stegall.jpg Army veteran opens medical facility in Cooper

    When Physician Assistant Scott Stegall first relocated to the Cooper Community Health Center from his practice in Commerce, he knew setting up a family medical clinic in the small, rural community with limited resources would present a challenge.

    April 25, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads

What's been the primary cause of the Texas Rangers' poor first half of the 2014 baseball season?

Too many injuries
The loss of Nolan Ryan in the front office
Questionable decisions by general manager Jon Daniels
On-field decisions by manager Ron Washington
Key players just aren't producing
All of the above
     View Results
Must Read

See more photos and purchase prints here.

AP Video
'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee Senators Push to End Hamas Threat in Cease-Fire A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 Raw: Deadly Storm Hits Virginia Campground Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands Raw: Families Travel to Taiwan Plane Crash Site Arizona Execution Takes Almost Two Hours Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide