My good friend Edward Nichols was killed yesterday in an auto accident in North Carolina. None of you know him, but he has impacted literally hundreds of lives in WV, NC, and Vietnam.
I first got to know Ed when I worked as a paramedic at Tri-State Ambulance in the late 80′s and early 90′s. Ed was the senior medic in the Elm Grove station and I was the senior medic in the Wheeling station in WV. We were each other’s primary backup during emergency calls. I always knew that if I found myself in a bad situation, such as a cardiac arrest or a motor vehicle accident involving multiple trauma patients, Ed was not far away and would always be there to help. During those years we began a friendship that lasted until his death yesterday. We were drinking buddies, roommates, co-workers, and cohorts in fun and mischief.
Ed was a man who loved serving and helping people. He was a Lance Corporal in the United States Marine Corp and served in Vietnam. He was wounded once during an mortar attack and received a Purple Heart. He is in the famous April 29th 1975 picture of Marines shoving helicopters off the flight deck of the USS Blue Ridge to make room for other helicopters bringing Vietnamese refugees fleeing the Communists during the fall of Saigon. His service in the Marine Corps was one of the proudest times in his life.
Upon return to these United States, Ed became a coal miner in WV until the coal industry collapsed in the 1980′s. Ed changed careers and became a paramedic working for Tri-State Ambulance in Wheeling WV and was responsible for helping literally hundreds of lives during his time there. He worked five 24 hour shifts each week and made our jobs fun even during the most darkest days. Ed was a peacemaker, team builder, mentor, practical joker, counselor, advocate, and friend to all there.
In 1993, Ed followed me to Winston-Salem North Carolina and lived with me until he bought his own home where he lived until he passed away. He started out his time in NC working with me taking care of a disabled man whose family became life long friends of ours. I eventually moved on, but Ed stayed with the family until the death of our friend and patient. Afterwards, Ed started working at Forsyth Hospital in Winston-Salem NC helping and touching hundreds of more lives. He was on his way to work when he was killed.
Ed never sought fame or recognition. He was the quiet kind of hero that did what he felt was the right thing to do and served people and his nation every day. He lived the Marine oath, “Semper Fi” or “Always Faithful”, everyday with everyone who he encountered. He was a good man, good marine, and a damn good medic. He made the world and the lives around him better than he had found it. He used to joke that “No good deed goes unpunished”, but he never stopped doing good for his fellow man despite any personal hardship. He is my friend and I am honored to have known him all these years.
Ed leaves behind his wife, Sherry, his two children, Courtney and Brian, and one grandchild.
Condolences can be sent to his wife Sherry here.