Robert James Nicklyn
In December 1969, the first draft lottery assigned number 176 to Robert J. Nicklyn, born October 25,1950. Throughout 1970, the Selective Service System called men born between 1944 and 1950 to report for induction into the armed services with draft lottery numbers 1 through 195. Nicklyn entered the Army on July 22, 1970.
Earlier that year, Nicklyn had completed a course at Delta College in the fundamentals of home building. He planned a career in the construction industry as an associate at Nicklyn Builders, a Saginaw business operated by his father.
Private Nicklyn received Basic Training at Fort Knox, Kentucky and received Advanced Infantry Training at Fort Polk located in Vernon Parish in West-Central Louisiana, better known as "The Crossroads". Upon completion of AIT, Nicklyn was promoted to Private First Class and issued orders to report for assignment and transport to Vietnam following leave.
Robert Nicklyn spent his 1970 Christmas and New Year holidays with his parents and six brothers. He was last seen locally attending services in uniform at Holy Cross Lutheran Church. He arrived in Vietnam at Da Nang Air Base on January 10, 1971.
PFC Robert Nicklyn served in D Company, 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile). He was a "leg" infantry radioman assigned to his company commander. He died in an ambush in one of the most active combat areas of Vietnam on his 107th day in country. Bob's decorations include the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with 1960-Device, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Unit Citation, Republic of Vietnam Military Merit Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Good Conduct Medal, Purple Heart and the Bronze Star Medal. Nicklyn was posthumously promoted to corporal.
The 101st Airborne Division fought in some of the most brutal battles of Vietnam. The infamous battle on Hill 937 was named “Hamburger Hill” due to the intense hand-to-hand fighting during the prolonged operation. The causalities were so high in the 101st Airborne that soldiers who were not trained as paratroopers (aka: legs) were attached to the Division following the battle for Hill 937. The airborne training school at Fort Benning could not meet the high demand for replacement paratrooper personnel throughout the Army. The three battalions of the 506th list 666 KIA/MIA in Vietnam.
Mike Wilson served with “Nick” in Vietnam. Nicklyn was given the handle “Nick” by his squad members. Mike remembers, “Nick was a jokester and when things were tense, he would crack a joke to ease the tension. I remember him singing, ‘Put another nickel in the nickelodeon’ to play off his name. I’ll never forget him."
Robert James Nicklyn's funeral service was held May 10, 1971 at Holy Cross Lutheran Church. Rev Harold Krach and Rev Steven Cluver officiated with internment at Holy Cross Lutheran Cemetery with military escort. His published obituary states, "He leaves his parents Mr. and Mrs. John Nicklyn; six brothers, John Peter, Carl Edwin, Richard Joseph, James Christian, Dennis Anthony, and Joseph Frederick Nicklyn, his grandfather Peter Nicklyn of AuGres, and all of Saginaw."
Home of Record:
Detroit, MI (corrected: Saginaw, MI)
Date of birth:
Army of the United States
Grade at loss:
Private First Class, E3
Posthumous Promotion to Corporal, E4 as indicated
*** ** ****
MOS or Specialty:
D CO, 1ST BN, 506TH INFANTRY, 101ST ABN DIV, USARV
Age at Loss:
Thua Thien Province, South Vietnam
Hostile, died outright
Gun or small arms fire