NICHOLS, HUBERT CAMPBELL JR. Name: Hubert Campbell Nichols, Jr. Rank/Branch: O4/US Air Force Unit: 14th Air Commando Wing, TDY to 602nd Tactical Fighter Squadron, NKP TH Date of Birth: 07 February 1929 Home City of Record: Pensacola FL Date of Loss: 01 September 1966 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 173700N 1062100E (XE432444) Status (in 1973): Missing in Action Category: 2 Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A1E Refno: 0443 Other Personnel in Incident: Norman Schmidt (killed in captivity, remains returned) Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 30 June 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 1998. REMARKS: SYNOPSIS: The Douglas A1 Skyraider ("Spad") is a highly maneuverable, propeller driven aircraft designed as a multipurpose attack bomber or utility aircraft. The A1 was first used by the Air Force in its Tactical Air Command to equip the first Air Commando Group engaged in counterinsurgency operations in South Vietnam, and later used in a variety of roles, ranging from multi-seat electronic intelligence gathering to Navy antisubmarine warfare and rescue missions. The venerable fighter aircraft flew in more than twenty model variations, probably more than any other U.S. combat aircraft. The general procedure for a rescue escort entailed two A1 aircraft flying directly to the search area to look for sign of the downed crewman while two other A1s escorted the rescue helicopter to the area. If it was necessary, the A1s would attack enemy in the area with bombs, rockets and cannon fire so that the helicopter could land. Major Hubert C. Nichols, Jr. was an A1 pilot on a temporary duty assignment to the 602nd Tactical Fighter Squadron based at Nakhon Phanom Airbase, Thailand. At 1235 hours on September 1, 1966, Nichols departed the base as the pilot of the lead aircraft in a flight of two A1Es (Sandy 31 and Sandy 32) on a search mission 13 miles northwest of Dong Hoi, Quang Binh Province, North Vietnam. The weather was cloudy with a 500-foot ceiling. The mission was to locate Major Norman Schmidt, whose F104 aircraft had been shot down by hostile ground fire. Nichols and his wingman, Capt. Alvie L. Minnick, were told by Crown Control to pick up and orbit with two helicopters some 10 miles off shore. Sandy 31 and Sandy 32 remained as escort for approximately one hour and twenty minutes at which time Crown Control told Sandy 31 (Nichols) that he was now the "on-scene commander" and to proceed to the area and relieve two Navy A1s who had been covering Schmidt's position. Nichols and Minnick proceeded to Schmidt's location and spotted the flare parachute from his aircraft at once. They continued their search, flying in an east and south direction. At about 1510, still flying a search pattern over Schmidt's general location, Minnick, observed heavy 37mm ground fire to the right of their line of flight and radioed Nichols to make a fast turn to the left. Minnick saw Nichols enter his turn, and his own aircraft was then struck by ground fire and he lost sight of Nichols' aircraft. Being fully occupied with maneuvering his damaged aircraft back to friendly territory, the wingman made no further observation of the lead aircraft and no radio transmissions were received from Maj. Nichols. A Navy pilot of an A1H aircraft of Papoose flight from the aircraft carrier USS INTREPID, who was flying in the area observed a burning aircraft and reported its location. Nearby search units located the wreckage and, after confirming that Maj. Nichols' aircraft was missing, searched the area for about 30 minutes, but failed to see any signs of life. No parachute was seen in the area and no electronic signals were received. Search efforts were suspended at 1530 hours because of extremely heavy ground fire. Capt. Minnick nursed his crippled aircraft almost back to the base at Nakhon Phanom, but he was forced to eject near the base, and was subsequently recovered by a "Jolly Green" flown by Oliver E. O'Maru, and was uninjured. During 1 and 6 September 1966 Radio Hanoi broadcasts transcribed by the Foreign Broadcast Information Service, claims were made of the shooting down of U.S. aircraft in Quang Binh Province on 1 September 1966 and the capture of the pilots. Although the newscasts varied as to the number and type of planes shot down, the date and location coincide with the loss of Major Nichols' aircraft. No names were mentioned in the broadcast. Major Norman Schmidt was never rescued. He was captured by the North Vietnamese and taken to Hanoi where he was held with other Americans in the infamous "Hanoi Hilton," the Hoa Lo prison complex. It was commonplace for American prisoners to be taken at regular intervals for "interrogation" or "quiz" which sometimes amounted to brutal torture, sometimes psychological, but more often physical in nature. One day in August 1967, when Norm Schmidt was living in the area of Hoa Lo called Little Vegas, he was taken to quiz and never returned. The quiz room was fairly close to the cellblock area, and returning POWs reported that they heard a scuffle, and when Schmidt did not return, they believed that the Vietnamese had beaten him to death. Norm Schmidt's remains were returned to U.S. control in March, 1974, one year after his fellow POWs were released from Hanoi. No further information was ever received about Major Nichols. During regular "negotiation" sessions between the U.S. and Vietnam, information was given to the Vietnamese in 1973, 1974 and 1975 on Major Nichols in the hopes that the Vietnamese would provide further information on him. The Vietnamese have denied any knowledge of the fate of Major Nichols. Since the war ended, over 10,000 reports relating to Americans prisoner, missing or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. There is little question that the Vietnamese can provide information about Hubert C. Nichols. Tragically, many authorities who have reviewed the largely-classified information relating to Americans missing in Southeast Asia have come away with the belief that hundreds of Americans are still alive in captivity today. Whether Hubert C. Campbell, Jr. is among them is not known. What is certain, however, is that we must do everything in our power to bring these men home. Hubert C. Nichols, Jr. was promoted to the rank of Colonel during the period he was maintained missing. Norman Schmidt was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel during the period he was a prisoner of war.