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Major Franklin A. Nichols

Major Franklin A. Nichols

Major Franklin A. NicholsFranklin Allen Nichols was born on 18 April 1918 in Holdenville, Oklahoma. Joining the Army Air Corps as an aviation cadet on 11 September 1940, he graduated from the flying school at Kelly Field, Texas on 25 April 1941. Initially assigned to Wheeler Field, Hawaii with the 6th Pursuit Squadron, 18th Pursuit Group flying P-40Bs, he was an eye witness to the first Japanese dive bomber that dropped the first bombs on Wheeler Field on 7 December 1941.

In August 1942 Lieutenant Nichols was transferred to the 7th Pursuit Squadron, 49th Pursuit Group, joining the squadron on Townsville, Australia in route to Port Moresby, New Guinea. Flying P-40Es, he served as flight commander and operations officer of the squadron.

Credited with probably destroying a Zeke on 22 November, eight days later Nichols shot down another Zeke over Buna. On 7 December, the first anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, he destroyed a Type 97 bomber in the same area. Promoted to captain, on February he downed two Zekes and damaged a Lily bomber north of Wau to become an ace. In June Nichols was transferred to the newly formed 475th Fighter Group in Brisbane, Australia and on 1 July was selected to command the 431st Fighter Squadron. Two months later he returned with the squadron to New Guinea, combat ready in the P-38. He scored one victory in the Lightning, an Oscar destroyed near Wewak, New Guinea on 21 August.

Ending the war as a lieutenant colonel, Nichols was promoted to colonel on 1 June 1952. He commanded the 363rd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing from 15 June to 1 September 1961 and the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing from 16 March 1964 to 30 May 1965. He retired from the Air Force as a major general in May 1970.

Tally Record:
5 Confirmed
1 Probable
1 Damaged 

Decorations:
Silver Star
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters
Air Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters 

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