An Ordinary Individual by mbemis

An Ordinary Individual

"A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles." --Christopher Reeve

This is 93-year-old Oral Nichols, a farm boy from Carlsbad, New Mexico. In December of 1941, Mr. Nichols was working as a civilian contractor on Wake Island in the Pacific Ocean. When the Japanese attacked, he was taken prisoner. For the next three and a half years he was a prisoner-of-war in Japan, where he was starved, beaten, abused and forced into slave labor. Two weeks ago, he and six other former POWs returned to Japan, this time as honored guests. Mr. Nichols graciously received the kindnesses of the Japanese people, holding no animosity against the children and grandchildren of those who mistreated him so cruelly. If you need an example of a hero, here he is.
Great capture and fantastic story! Thank you so much for sharing!
November 22nd, 2014  
Oh, this is phenomenal! To see a dramatization of a similar return to Japan, I'm looking forward to "Unbroken," being released Christmas day. You know, Mr. Nichols doesn't look that old--what an overcomer!
November 22nd, 2014  
@cejaanderson Jane, he is in top-notch condition. He was a schoolmate of Daddy and was sad to hear about Daddy's death. He was invited to go and arrangements were made by Jan Thompson, the filmmaker whom we brought to Carlsbad last March. She met Mr. Nichols at that time and saw he would be a great ambassador. You can see his talk before the Japanese Press Club here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWGWdnBtzCQ
November 22nd, 2014  
Wow, he does not look that age at all. Great shot.
November 22nd, 2014  
A very special story :)
November 22nd, 2014  
What a great portrait and story Mannie. I watched the YouTube video and you are so correct in your assessment of his character, he's a true hero. My mum's cousin was a prisoner of war in Japan too. He had been serving with the Chindits. He was wounded and had to be left where he fell as they were operating behind enemy lines. I'll add some info about them before finishing Willie's story
During the 1939/45 War a Special force was trained in Commando methods to infiltrate behind the Japanese lines in Burma. They were known as the CHINDITS, a name given to them by their leader, Major-General Orde C. Wingate, D.S.O.

After the initial expedition in 1943 the full force was marched or landed in the jungle on makeshift air-strips by glider or Dakota aircraft 200 miles behind enemy lines in March 1944.

The mission was successful and called Operation Thursday, this eventually started the rot, which led to the Japanese surrender.

The force suffered many casualties killed, wounded or taken prisoner. Many of the survivors still suffer today from the hardship, rigours and strain of the two long arduous campaigns, when the only contact with base was by radio, all supplies came by air-drop.
Willie recognised that if he were captured and recognised as a Chindit he would be killed so he changed his dog tags for those of a fallen Indian Army Officer. He was taken prisoner and suffered horrendously. When he eventually got back to Northern Ireland it was to discover that as a result of those dog tags his wife had been informed that he was dead. She had remarried and was expecting a baby so with great dignity he walked away., giving her the opportunity to rebuild her life without him. Unknown to me he's come to England and settled in a house jut six miles away from where I lived. I first met him when his brother informed him that I was living so close. He came to visit me and we spent a few happy years catching up before he died as a result of the issues he'd suffered all his life from being a prisoner of the Japanese.




November 22nd, 2014  
I should have added that he harboured no bitterness or held no resentments, another true hero
November 22nd, 2014  
Wow Mannie, amazing capture of an amazing man. fantastic x
November 22nd, 2014  
A man to be honoured.!!
November 22nd, 2014  
@ceilidh Margaret, thank you so much for telling the story of your mother's cousin. Another story of a life forever changed by the horrors of war, especially at the hands of a cruel captor. And then to return home to find his life was turned upside-down there too--oh, my. I'm so glad you were able to connect with him and spend time with him.
November 22nd, 2014  
@777margo @amyleewinfield @gigiflower @miata2u Thanks for your comments on the portrait of Mr. Nichols. He is quite an amazing man.
November 22nd, 2014  
Great photo. Amazing story.
November 22nd, 2014  
@juliac Thanks ,Julia.
November 22nd, 2014  
What a wonderful portrait and an incredible narrative. What an amazing man.
November 22nd, 2014  
@icamera Thank you, Joe. Mr. Nichols would tell you he's just an ordinary man, but I think anyone who survived three and a half years of a Japanese POW camp is quite a bit more than ordinary.
November 22nd, 2014  
@ceilidh fabulous story too how wonderful to get to meet him
November 22nd, 2014  
We can only have admiration for these men, we have no comprehension of how they suffered and yet they remained upstanding thoughtful forgiving men
November 22nd, 2014  
@denisefuller You are so right, Denise. I believe it is those who have the grace to forgive who are able to rise above the terrible circumstances they're in. Mr. Nichols said he made up his mind early on in his captivity that he was going to survive. Not only did he survive the war, but he triumphed in life after the war too. I'm privileged to know him.
November 22nd, 2014  
A special person indeed. Many years ago I met veteran who freed prisoners from a Japanese camp. He couldn't describe what he saw.
November 24th, 2014  
@kathiecb It was unbelievable horror, Kathie. At German POW camps, there was a 3% mortality rate. It was closer to 50% at Japanese camps. The Japanese camps could almost be likened to the German extermination camps. I hate war.
November 24th, 2014  
Mannie, this is an outstanding portrait. I love that you have captured Mr. Nichols being "ordinary" and, yet, as you have said, he is anything but ordinary.

Thank you for documenting and sharing his story. While he wouldn't say or think so, those like Mr. Nichols, deserve to be recognized for their courage and their part in our collective history.
November 24th, 2014  
@voiceprintz Thanks, JT. Mr. Nichols' story is made even more heroic when you think that he was a civilian--not a warrior--who went into the prison camps with the soldiers. He was just a kid, as were so many of the military, who was thrown into an impossible situation with no preparation.
November 24th, 2014  
A true hero in every aspect possible! What an amazing man :)
November 24th, 2014  
@gilbertwood Indeed he is, Denise.
November 24th, 2014  
Great history lesson aunt mannie. Is he the man that we meet is daughter at the memoria last Christmas?
November 25th, 2014  
@jasonadams17 Thanks, Miss A. This is not Mr. Moseley, whose daughter you met. This man lives in Carlsbad and grew up with PaPa.
November 25th, 2014  
@mbemis ok aunt mannie. Thay are both Herod to me
November 25th, 2014  
@jasonadams17 I ment to say Heroes
November 25th, 2014  
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