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Carl Nichols
Williamson Daily News

West Virginia Veterans Memorial


Carl Nichols

"Everybody knows about Pearl Harbor. The thing that really fascinated me is that through this tragedy there was this amazing American heroism."

Michael Bay

Carl Nichols was born in Glen Alum, Mingo County, West Virginia, in 1921. He grew up with eight brothers and sisters:Eliza Nichols, Elias Nichols, Susie Nichols, Tommy Nichols, Fern Nichols, Georgia Blackburn, Aubert Blackburn, and Chester Blackburn. The large family lived with his mother, Amy Blackburn, and stepfather, George Blackburn. He and two brothers fought in World War II. His brother, Tom Nichols, was a decorated soldier who won a Bronze Star for his efforts in the Battle of the Bulge. His other brother Elias fought in the U.S. Army. Carl went to Gilbert High School until his junior year, when he dropped out to go to work. He worked in the Civilian Conservation Corps, helping conserve wildlife across the state before his enlistment. The CCC was one of President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal public works programs. Its aim was to promote conservation of the environment and provide employment for unemployed male citizens.

Carl enlisted in the U.S. Navy on July 10, 1940. For the first four months of his service, Carl was stationed in Virginia and was then transferred to Pearl Harbor for the next thirteen months. Carl's rank was seaman second class. He served aboard the USS Oklahoma, a battleship that carried over eight hundred men, 429 of which were killed in the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Many of the men on board died trying to fight off the Japanese attackers as the ship was sinking. Carl was likely one of the men that stayed on board to fight off the attack. He died when the ship sank. He was just 20 years old.

The Oklahoma capsizes in a photo taken during the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. National Archives and Records Administration, photo no. 295984

Courts of the Missing

S1c Carl Nichols is memorialized at the Courts of the Missing, Honolulu Memorial. A cenotaph also bears his name. Courtesy Debbie (Tetrault) and Bruce Almeida, Find A Grave

After the bombing, S1c Nichols was pronounced missing in action and was awarded the Purple Heart. He was the first casualty Mingo County had in the war. The VFW Post in Gilbert, West Virginia, was named to honor Carl. His name is also inscribed in the Tablets of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial, National Cemetery of the Pacific, in Hawaii.

Article prepared by John Holden, George Washington High School Advanced Placement U.S. History


Carl Nichols

West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.

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