Kelsey Klont
Contributing Writer

Duane Nicol, a Charlotte native, served in the Navy during World War II (WWII). His service during that critical world war has touched the hearts of many within his inner circle, as well as within Charlotte.

Quartermaster Nicol had a critical role in both sides of the war as many war related families call it, where you have the Atlantic side and the Pacific side, that is rarely found amongst WWII veteran’s families, usually its one or the other. So, when Jana, Nicol’s youngest daughter, tells people that her dad served on both sides they say, “No, but really. What side, not both.” But yes, Quartermaster Nicol served on the Atlantic side fighting our country’s enemies off in Africa and Europe and the Pacific side to fight in Japan, Hawaii, Panama Canal, and the Philippines.

Nicol enlisted in the Navy when he turned 18 in April of 1943. He attended the Great Lakes Naval Academy in Chicago. After six months of training at the academy Nicol went to Norfolk, Virginia where Landing Ship Tank (LST) 994 was built, during January of 1944.

Nicol spent time in New York and Boston in May of 1944, before he and his crew, Crew #4387, were to be shipped overseas. Some of his letters that he frequently wrote to his parents, John and Glenna Nicol, were censored via the military. Jana has compiled all of his letters and noticed that was when the censored letter started, in May of 1944, and tried to decipher them.

LST 994 with Crew #4387 were shipped overseas to North Africa where they landed in Morocco, in July of 1944, and found the tides of the war were changing. Then moved up through the Mediterranean Sea into Italy, then entered France. Crew #4387 entered into France from its southern border as a part of ANVIL, the Allied invasion of southern France, that occurred in August of 1944. Which later was named Operation Dragoon.

Quartermaster Nicol came back to the States after his service in Europe and was reassigned and went to Japan while stationed on another ship, LST 309, that took the Quartermaster from Texas through the Panama Canal to Hawaii and then from there across the Pacific Ocean to Philippines and Yokohama, Japan. It was not until after the war was over that the military had the soldiers stripped, repainted the ships gray, and turn them over to Japan.

Throughout his whole deployment Quartermaster Nicol consistently wrote to his parents which occasionally turned into Victory mail (V-mail). Jana has collected all the V-mail from the 1940’s, during that time the military would take photocopies of the soldier’s letters and shrink it down to send to the family, while they kept the original.

While deployed overseas in Europe, the soldiers had fun while over there, Quartermaster Nicol and some Navy buddies had their picture taken in an Army Jeep in France. That was one of the core memories for Nicols, when he got back home to Charlotte, he bought himself a ’47 Willy’s Jeep and it has been in the family; now Jana’s sister, Jenae, owns it.

Being a Charlotte local Quartermaster Nicol loved the Charlotte paper, he always wanted it sent to him overseas so he could stay in touch with his hometown. At the end of each letter home he would sign, “Write the news and do not worry.” To settle his mother’s mind with her son serving in WWII and to stay updated back home.

After making his country and hometown proud for making the biggest sacrifice of serving in WWII, Quartermaster Duane Nicol married the love of his life, Patricia, and together they had four daughters Jodi Miller, Jolie Frantz, Jenae Nicol, and Jana Nicol.

In 1996 brave hearted World War II Navy Veteran, Quartermaster Duane Nicol of Charlotte passed away; but his memory, courage, and service to our country lives on. Thank you, Quartermaster Nicol, for your service to our country and Jana for reaching out for this story.