AL ASAD, Iraq (Dec. 23, 2006) -- “Losing their commander affected the Marines quite a bit, and it is my job to make it up to them,” said Staff Sgt. Michael W. Nichols.

Becoming a platoon leader, Nichols, commander of 3rd Platoon, Combat Logistics Company 111, Combat Logistics Battalion 1, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), has used his knowledge and faith to lead his Marines.

“My faith all started when I was a drill instructor at San Diego in 2002,” said Nichols, 30. “My wife and I started going to church to strengthen our relationship as a married couple.”

Nichols’ devotion and wisdom grew, and he said good things started to happen. While on DI duty, defining moments occurred for him such as starring in the 2003 documentary, “Ears, Open. Eyeballs, Click,” from film-maker Canaan Brumley, about Marine Corps boot camp. He also achieved senior drill instructor at the rank of sergeant.

“The movie was shot when I was with my first platoon as senior drill instructor,” said Nichols. “That was a cool phase of showing the public the most accurate (version of) the making of Marines.”

From his experiences in the drill field and as a junior marine, the Laplace, La., native returned to his occupation as a motor vehicle operator and shared guidance from skills he has received in the Marine Corps.

“I try to shed my guidance to my Marines for them to know when they could play around and when it’s all business,” said Nichols. “(The Marines) tell me how they could always depend on me from my hard work and trust.”

With the trust and confidence of his Marines, Nichols became the platoon commander after its original leader was injured.

It happened during a routine re-supply mission as 2nd Lt. Wesley B. Lippman almost lost his life. An improvised explosive device blast flipped the command vehicle.

The explosion injured the driver, radio operator and platoon commander. The wounds prevented Lippman from continuing the mission, and the platoon was left without a commander. Knowing that the Marines had to return home, Nichols stepped up without hesitation as a staff non-commissioned officer and led his Marines back to base.

After the incident, when the platoon was left without a commander to lead them, the CLB-1 command appointed the Marine that 3rd Platoon calls ‘Preacher’ to guide the Marines.

“When I found out that I was going to be a platoon commander, at first I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I knew right then, I had a huge responsibility and I was meant for this.”

Nichols will remain in Iraq until the end of his active service in December 2006.

He plans to leave the Marine Corps but he wants to continue to lead, as a pastor of a church.

“I have a lot ahead of me in this life,” said Nichols. “I will look back at this experience (in the Marine Corps) with no regrets.”

Ellie