MSgt Kevin Nichols, U.S. Air Force (1996-2017)



The following Reflection represents MSgt Kevin Nichols’s legacy of their military service from 1996 to 2017. If you are a Veteran, consider preserving a record of your own military service, including your memories and photographs, on (TWS), the leading archive of living military history. The Service Reflections is an easy-to-complete self-interview, located on your TWS Military Service Page, which enables you to remember key people and events from your military service and the impact they made on your life.

Who or what influenced your decision to join the military? Which service branch did you select, and what do you remember most about joining up?

The Pizza Made Me Do It

It wasn’t that my oldest brother was a Marine or that another brother was a Sailor. It wasn’t that my Dad always talked about his DOD sanctioned school as a child during the Manhattan Project days.

That’s not why I joined; that actually influenced me NOT to join. After several calls from Marine recruiters who knew “Gunny Nichols,” I’d tell them I was going to college to make something of myself…so I did.

While I was in college, one day, the school offered free pizza for anyone in the radio broadcasting degree who’d listen to a few Air Force recruiters. “Ok,” I told myself. “I’ll listen to your spiel.” Free food will get any college kid to a room, even if they’re not interested.

Ultimately, the “spiel” made me take a closer look at the military. Travel the world, guaranteed pay, and take the family with me to most locations (I was planning an engagement, so that nugget was important). What’s not to like? The radio DJ field was tumultuous at best. Popular radio jockeys were being let go just because new management took over and wanted new voices for the “new lighter FM” sound. So the job force was looking scary. Here was a chance to become like Adrian Cronauer from the movie Good Morning Vietnam. I’ve always liked that movie. Plus, these Air Force folks seem to love what they do. Maybe they put something in the pizza…

I married my high school, sweetheart shortly after that “spiel” and her agreement to “follow me anywhere” for the rest of our lives. Saw the recruiter and signed up. My Marine brother told me it was “ok” I join the Air Force since “they seem to take care of their people better,” and he was happy at least it wasn’t the Navy or Army, to which he replied, “I’d have to come home and kick your “butt.”

Excitement raced through me as I waited for boot camp under the delayed enlistment program. The bus ride from MEPS was bursting with giddiness. But, that first first night stepping into their world, the T.I.’s world, as their 50 “little maggots” stepped off the bus, was not only a shock to the system but a wake up call to what I paid for with that college pizza luncheon.

It took me about a week to get over the “what the hell did I get myself into” feeling and get to a place of acceptance. What turned it around for me was becoming an element leader of our flight, and when my instructor told me later that he chose me because of “discipline.” What?! I have discipline? Or the makings, at least? The ability to make decisions, follow orders, and help others to do the same. That “discipline speech” would serve me well throughout my military career as an NCO and SNCO. I didn’t think I’d last 20+ years, but glad I did. It was the most rewarding thing this college kid could’ve ever dreamed of.

Boot Camp, Units, Combat Operations

Join to Create a Legacy of Your Service

U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Coast Guard



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *