Slain officer is described as 'filled with goodness, kindness'

The Stars & Stripes
March 27, 1985

WEST REDDING, Conn (UPI) -- Maj. Arthur Donald Nicholson Jr., killed by a Soviet soldier in East Germany, was described Monday as "the perfect young man" who knew what he was getting into when he volunteered to serve his country.

Flags flew at half-staff in West Redding to honor a hometown boy who served in the U.S. Military Liaison Mission in Potsdam, East Germany, since 1982.  Nicholson, 37, lived in West Berlin with his wife, Karyn, and their 8-year-old daughter, Jennifer.

The Sunday shooting was the first line-of-duty fatality involving a member of a U.S. liaison mission.

His mother-in-law, Elva Vincent, said from her home in Cambridge, Md., that she did not know what her daughter's plans would be.

"Right now, she's so numb she doesn't know what to do," Vincent said.  "They'll probably stay in Germany until the little girl finishes school, because now's a bad time to change schools.

"After that, I assume they'll come to Cambridge," she said.  "What happens then, I don't know.  They were going to move back to the United States this summer."

"If my kids could grow up half as nice as he is, I'd think I did one hell of a job as a parent,: said Paul Smith, a neighbor of Nicholson's parents in the affluent New England town of West Redding.

Smith's wife, Veronica, said, "He was a wonderful young man, filled with goodness and kindness.  He worshipped his mother, father, wife and daughter.  He was the perfect young man."

Nicholson's father, a retired naval officer, was unavailable for comment.

Nicholson's high school guidance counselor said he was "unique" because of his interest in a military career when he graduated in 1966.

"During the Vietnam era, the military was not well thought of," said Robert Roth.  He said Nicholson "knew what he was getting into" because he had a father in the military.

Vincent said her son-in-law stated in his will that he wanted to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Nicholson was born in Mount Vernon, Wash.  In 1963, his family moved to West Redding, a rural town of 7,000, from McLean, Va.

He received a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky., and he joined the Army in May 1969.  He also received a master's degree in international relations from the U.S. naval postgraduate school in Monterey, Calif.

According to the Pentagon, Nicholson was an accomplished Russian linguist who has been assigned to the U.S. mission in Potsdam, for three years.

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Thanks to B. Knight for this article.

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