Loved ones mourn as SPC Nichols is laid to rest - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Loved ones mourn as SPC Nichols is laid to rest

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WAVERLY (KWWL) -

Specialist Donald Nichols was laid to rest before hundreds of family members and friends Saturday morning. Nichols' funeral took place at Waverly-Shell Rock High School, and he was buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Cedar Falls.

Many of those who arrived for the funeral knew Nichols well, others never had the chance to meet the 21 year-old. But everyone honored the young man as a hero.

"On April 13, 2011, We lost a great friend. But most of all, a great soldier," noted Capt. Garrett Gingrich, speaking on behalf of Nichols' platoon leader.

Loved ones shared a few smiles.

"He had a great personality, sense of humor, and liked to make people laugh. He created the quadruple stuffed Oreo," Lt. Col. Paul McNamara shared, speaking for Lt. Steve Kramer.

There were also many tears.

"It cannot be real, this cannot be true," said Nichols' fiancee Chelsey Bliss, reading from a poem written by his uncle.

In a solemn ceremony, they remembered Nichols' life, and his untimely death.

"I'm 10,000 feet in the air, on a plane that I shouldn't be on. I should be the one in the casket below this airplane, not my baby brother," Chaplin Mike Crawford read on behalf of Nichols' brother, Joe Nichols.

They reflected on his bravery, his courage, and his sacrifice.

Capt. Tyson Trunkhill read memories from Capt. Shane Hunter, "on one mission, Specialist Nichols severely injured his knee, but he would not allow anyone to carry his rucksack. He did not want anyone to have to carry his weight. That's the kind of solider Specialist Nichols was."

Spc. Aaron McNew, a friend of Nichols, asked the families in attendance to continue living for their fallen hero.

"On the battlefield, we don't mourn the loss of a soldier, we live his life. And that's what I want us to do today. Live his life. Because that's what he did for everybody," he said.

The sight between Waverly and Cedar Falls was breathtaking and heartwarming, as hundreds of Patriot Guard Riders escorted Nichols' casket to the cemetery.

To some he was a son, others a brother, and for all a soldier. Now, he's at rest.

"Specialist Don Nichols may be gone, but he will never be forgotten. Rest in peace, Specialist Nichols, rest in peace," Gingrich concluded.

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