Tribute to a Patriot

Tribute to a Patriot


There won’t be any promotion of my novel or cowboy talk this time. I would like to pay tribute to my cousin, Bryan Nichols.

I’m sure most everyone is familiar with the Chinook helicopter shot down recently in Afghanistan. Bryan was the pilot. The funeral overwhelmed me in so many ways. My heart aches for his wife Mary, his son Braydon, my uncle Douglas and aunt Cindy, and all the family. The military service was precision and included a fly over by two Chinooks at the gravesite. My wife and I were in total awe. The words spoken about Bryan by his fellow service men was high emotion. But let me tell you what had the most effect on Dianne and I.

We saw the worst, and the best of America. The worst? The Baptist loons from Topeka were there doing their protest. One woman’s sign read, “Thank God for dead soldiers.” When you see on television or hear about what they do, it makes you mad and disgusted. When it’s directed at one of your own, there is a completely different set of feelings.

Let me assure you, the good far out weighed the bad. I’ve never seen that many American flags in one day in my life. The American Legionnaires stood six feet apart and completely lined the street and grounds of the school where the service was held. They all held flags, the sincerity chiseled on their faces. They did the same thing at the cemetery and there had to be close to 500 of them. Several of them had come from Olathe Kansas the day before, attending a funeral for another soldier killed in the same incident. These men and women are all volunteer and not compensated. God bless them.

The most amazing thing of all that restored and validated all my pride and love for this great country, were the everyday citizens who lined the highways and city streets showing their support. It was forty miles to the cemetery, and people with flags were there for the entire route. The two small towns we passed through were ten people deep on both sides of the street. This was not organized or planned or promoted by any group. These folks, on their own, knew of the fallen local hero and took the time and effort to demonstrate their appreciation for Bryan’s service and his family’s sacrifice. I would have thanked every one of them personally if I could.

Please remember everyday what these fighting men and women are going through. They ain’t doing for the money. They do it for you and me and their country. The greatest country on earth.

Joe Nichols

2 thoughts on “Tribute to a Patriot

  1. Joe, I cannot tell you how much this has meant to me today, at this moment, March 13, 2014. As our Wordsmith six “talk” to the Friends of the Fine Arts I was reminded of your cousin and asked you to remind me of his name again. That night I looked up his name and the name of his family and parents and fallen comrades. I witnessed again the story about how Braydon didn’t want people to forget his dad, the helicopter pilot. How in the absolute world could I know that all the other families had recently come together to get answers. How could I possibly know that? The simple answer is that they are all in the Heavens above watching. They have our backs!!. I just wanted you to share with Braydon and all the families to know that NO ONE has been forgotten. Even the service dog, Bart, still lives in our memories and will forever. Tell them I will carry the message. Please tell them I REMEMBERED and WILL NEVER FORGET!!!!! To be there that night at the Friends gathering and to see the flowers on the table and to be there with all of you in our group means more than you can ever EVER know. Thanks Joe once again and thanks Natalie Bright, Craig Keel, Nancy Dee Keel, and Barbara Propst. We did a good thing didn’t we??? Oh and the folders we left with them with all our material. I gathered some of them up and made sure that I had all of your articles and brought them back to the bookstore. Today Tom Koumalots came by to pick up books for Jodi Thomas so I gave this to Tom to give to Jodi. I told him that Jodi had played such a part of our lives and where our journeys have taken us since we took her Creative writing class, and not only in writing.I wanted her to have something tangible to share of all she has given us. And Tom’s dad was George Koumalots who passed away this last year. George was a paratrooper that landed in Normandy. I haven’t forgotten him either. Thanks again Joe. Tell them all. As it says in the musical drama TEXAS-“Take good news where you are going. Say to the waiting dead….”

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