Retired July 1, 1988. Died April 5, 1997.
Lieutenant General David L. Nichols is commander, Alaskan Air Command, and commander, Alaskan North American Aerospace Defense Command Region, Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. He also commands the Joint Task Force-Alaska, which is responsible for the overall defense of mainland Alaska.
General Nichols was born in 1934, in Iola, Kan., where he graduated from Iola High School in 1952. He earned a bachelor of science degree from Oklahoma State University in 1964 and a master of science degree in systems management from the University of Southern California in 1973. The general completed Air Command and Staff College in 1966 and Air War College in 1973, both as a distinguished graduate.
In August 1955 he was assigned as a navigator with the 30th Air Transport Squadron at McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., remaining there until he departed for pilot training. He graduated from pilot training in April 1960 at Vance Air Force Base, Okla., and remained there as an instructor pilot.
In January 1967 General Nichols was assigned to the 357th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, where he completed 100 combat missions over North Vietnam. He then was assigned to the 23rd Tactical Fighter Wing at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., as an F-105 instructor pilot and wing chief of safety.
The general transferred to Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, in July 1970. There he served initially as chief of safety for the 18th Tactical Fighter Wing, and later became commander of the 12th Tactical Fighter Squadron. He returned to the United States to attend Air War College and graduated in May 1973.
General Nichols was the Air Force military assistant to the assistant secretary of defense for atomic energy, Washington, D.C., until August 1975. He then moved to Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., as chief of staff, Headquarters 9th Air Force. From April 1977 to July 1979 he was assigned to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., as commander of the 33rd Tactical Fighter Wing, equipped with F-4E's and F-15s.
He then returned to the Pentagon as deputy director for operations and training, Headquarters U.S. Air Force. In March 1980 he became deputy director for plans and policy. From July 1981 to October 1982 the general served as deputy chief of staff for plans, Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Ramstein Air Base, West Germany. He became the command's chief of staff in October 1982.
Returning to the United States in August 1983, General Nichols was named assistant deputy chief of staff for plans and operations at Air Force headquarters. In June 1984 he became deputy chief of staff for plans and operations. In that capacity, he also served as the Air Force operations deputy to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He assumed his present command in September 1985.
The general was instrumental in the deployment of the ground-launched cruise missile weapon system from 1980 through 1985. He served as the first director of the Air Force's ground-launched cruise missile planning group. He later established and directed the ground-launched cruise missile planning group in Europe, managing the missile's beddown activities and building six bases in five North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries.
General Nichols is a command pilot with more than 8,800 flying hours. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross with three oak leaf clusters, Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with 16 oak leaf clusters, and Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster.
He was promoted to lieutenant general June 28, 1984, with same date of rank.