1st Battalion, 505th
Parachute Infantry Regiment
82nd Airborne Division,
Fort Bragg, NC
22, of Salem,
NH; killed in
action by enemy fire he
encountered in Bayji, Iraq.
say Nick had a lust for life that wasn't easy to contain. He rattled windows
when he played guitar with his metal band, Thrall. At concerts, he started mosh
pits, slamming himself into the biggest guys he could find. Even in defeat
- when another wrestler pinned him or he struck out at bat - he kept a huge grin
on his face.
Nick, a Salem High School graduate, was a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne
Division, he had already served a combat tour in Afghanistan when he volunteered
to go to Iraq in August 2006. "He
wanted to be a major player in the war," said his sister, Kim, who tried to
persuade him to take a recruiting job he was offered after his first tour. "All
he would say to me was, 'I want to go with my guys. I want to get them through
this and get them all home."
His friends say Nick loved being part of a team, whether
it was the jazz band, the marching band or the wrestling team. He was not
intimidated by challenges or
sacrifices he had to make to be part of a group.
Marty Claussen, who directs the
marching band and jazz ensemble at Salem High, said Nick was a go-to guy. He
once asked Nick, a baritone player, to switch to the cumbersome sousaphone for a
march in the Tournament of Roses parade in
Pasadena, Calif. Another time, he asked him to
fill in for a guitar player in a percussion ensemble. Nick had only a week to
learn the music that others had worked on for months, but he didn't panic or
hesitate to accept said Claussen.
Nick hoped to pursue a career in music but
after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he felt compelled to enlist in
the military. "After Sept. 11, Nick told me he had to do what had to be done,"
said Robert Stickney, the father of one of Nick's closest friends, Keith
Stickney. "He said his music could wait."
His sister Kim said she should have guessed
her brother's future career when he was 5: She caught him jumping off the top
bunk bed onto a beanbag chair. "I said, 'Are you crazy?' “ He just grinned at
her. Kim, who joined the Air Force after high school, wasn't the only one who
worried when her brother announced he was joining the 82nd Airborne, an infantry
unit that frequently deploys to dangerous combat areas. Ben Adams, a history
teacher at Salem High and a former airborne soldier, remembers when Nick told
him he had joined an airborne unit. "He could see that I had significant
concerns," he said. "In the 82nd, he was going to be in harm's way." "He looked
at me and said, 'It's something I gotta do,' " Adams said.