Don Nicholas arrived at Texas A&M in the fall of 1944, and after a short stint in the Air Force during World War II, he returned to A&M in 1947. That year, he donned the maroon and white on the football field under then-coach Homer Norton as a quarterback for the Aggies.
"We had a series of T plays and I ran that for the most part whenever we went into that T formation mode."
Class of 1948, Nicholas and the Aggies had their work cut out for them in the old Southwest Conference playing against football giants such as as Darrell Royal at Oklahoma, Tom Landry at Texas and Doak Walker at SMU.
After he graduated in 1950, his plans of beginning a coaching career took a different turn. He took a 90-day tour of active duty before the Korean war heated up. Based at Okinawa, Nicholas flew bombing missions in a B-29 during the Korean War.
"If they had troop concentrations beginning to form in certain places, we would have anti-personnel stuff. If we had things like the hydroelectric plants, we'd put the big bombs on, but it just depended on what the target was going to be and that was the way we were outfitted."
After Korea, Nicholas stayed in the Air Force and when Vietnam hit, he was shipped over to southeast Asia.
"In Vietnam, we were flying B-52's and the d-model airplanes. That started 66, 67 and then i went out there again in 72...the first one was we were set over to augment an operation that was going on in Vietnam, so we only stayed 3 months over there that time. When we came back the next time, we came for 6 months, which is a normal tour for us...in 1972 because of my b-52 experience, i was sent back. At that time, I was an Air Division director of operations and later on, when that incumbent left the Vice-Commander job, I took the VC job. That actually was the last of my Vietnam experience but total, all over, it was...3...we had 3 trips out there to do the work that we were assigned."
In all, Don Nicholas had a successful 31-year career as a flyer in the Air Force. And if you ask him, he'll tell you he wishes it could have been 30 more.
"Well, it was everything I expected and more. I really enjoyed it and it ended too soon I though. But I did have 30 years of service...I got a chance to fly a lot of different airplanes, and fly in different places and saw a whole lot of world from 30,000 feet...and but it was everything I expected it to be and I really enjoyed it. I would recommend it."