North High School Wall of Honor
William James Nichols
Class of June, 1940
Research done by Claradell Shedd, Class of 1953. PAGE IN PROGRESS
William James Nichols
Jim was a member of North High's class of June, 1940. His next of kin was Mr. William S. Nichols, 214 Coast Street, Des Moines, IA. Jim's service number was 0 715 289.
William James Nichols
Year   Rank   Status
June, 1940 x Graduated x Graduated from North High, Des Moines, IA
1940-1944 x Where? x What happened during this four year period? Schooling?
Mar. 12, 1944   US Army Air Corps
  Enlisted or was drafted? Where and when?
date x US Army Air Corps
x *Grider Field, Pine Bluff, AR (Primary Independence)
date x US Army Air Corps
x Basic Training: Ellington Field, TX
date x US Army Air Corps
x Advanced Training: **Liberal Air Field, Liberal, KS; B-24 Transport
Oct. 21-Nov.10, 1944 x US Army Air Corps x Pilot; Engine 1092; European duty; Rhineland, Po Valley, Air Combat Balkans, North Apennines.
Nov. 23, 1945 x US Army Air Corps/
1st Lt.
x Discharged through Army Air Force, 247th AAF Base Unit, Hq SHAFF, Salina, KS. Place of separation was AAF Separation Base, Sioux City, IA
date x Schooling x Graduated from the University of Iowa
date x Schooling x Medical degree from ***Des Moines Still College of Osteopathy and Surgery
date x Schooling x Interned at Des Moines General Hospital
date x Employment x General medical practice in Lake View, IA. for over 34 years.
date to present x Civilian x Vocation, civilian career.
* Grider Field, Pine Bluff, AR
Grider Army Air Field was a World War II Army Air Corps training facility located in Jefferson County. Named posthumously in honor of World War I pilot John McGavock Grider of Osceola (Mississippi County), it opened on March 22, 1941.

On March 22, 1941, under control of the United States Army Air Corps, Grider Field received its first class of fifty cadets scheduled for ten weeks of flight instruction. The field was formally dedicated on May 24, 1941.

In just over four months, a cotton field was leveled, surveyed, and sodded for an airfield. Administrative buildings, aircraft hangars, barracks, a mess hall, and a control tower were erected, and concrete aprons were poured to divert water from specific buildings and hangars. Grider Field eventually encompassed a total of fourteen buildings on a fifteen-acre tract; up to 150 cadets could be housed and trained there. Six Fairchild PT-19—single prop, two-seated aircraft—were flown from Hagerstown, Maryland, to be used at Grider Field for the beginning flight training. On March 22, 1941, under control of the United States Army Air Corps, Grider Field received its first class of fifty cadets scheduled for ten weeks of flight instruction. The field was formally dedicated on May 24, 1941.

The Army Air Corps training school at the airfield was in operation for three and a half years, admitted around 12,000 pilot trainees, and graduated approximately 9,000 pilots. A former instructor at the Air Corps School, Willard Haralson, recalled that two instructors, one civilian, and five cadet pilots were killed in training exercises at the airfield during its operation. At one time, 275 aircraft were being used to train 758 prospective pilots.

**Liberal Air Field, KS
The U.S. Army Air Corps trained B-24 bomber crews at Liberal Army Airfield during World War II, and when the base closed after the war ended, the people of Liberal needed to put the old airstrip to use. The war had introduced the idea of airplane use to the nation on a widespread basis, and in the years following the hostilities companies that had produced aircraft for the military scrambled to capture a piece of the growing civilian market. For a time Beech Aircraft made planes at the old airbase in Liberal. After Beech closed down their plant the people in Liberal realized they had an opportunity to preserve their aviation heritage. And so the Mid-America Air Museum was born. Mid-America Air Museum

***Des Moines Still College of Ostepathy
Des Moines University was founded in 1898 as the Dr. S.S. Still College of Osteopathy. It was renamed Still College in 1905 and Des Moines Still College of Osteopathy and Surgery during the 1940s.

B-24; Liberators U of Iowa Still College

US Air Force seal

US Army Air Corps Patch; 1943

William James Nichols
1st Lieutenant
US Army Air Corps

Air Force Pilot Wings

William James Nichols photo

American Theater, European-African Middle Eastern Theater;
Distingished Flying Cross, Air Medal

15th Air Force Patch

1st Lieutenant Bar
(1) The World War II Army Enlistment Records contain information on more than nine million indivdual enlistments. These records can be found online at

(2) The comprehensive list of names from North High's 1893-2018 graduation classes are from Claradell Shedd's North Des Moines High School website. The names of North High School graduates can be found online at: William James's 1940 class page is:
12/16/10. Died 09/17/10.
Music: "Wind Beneath My Wings"
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