The anniversary of the 1985 killing of MAJ Arthur Nicholson by a Soviet sentry was marked again this year near the spot where he was shot outside Ludwigslust in Germany. A ceremony organized by USMLM veteran SFC (ret) Thomas Favia (USMLM 1989-1991) took place March 20th at 10:00 am at the memorial site near the village of Techentin.
Tom Favia reported that about 20 people assembled for the Saturday morning ceremony. As before, the ceremony commemorated not only Nicholson, but French mission officer Adjutant Chef Philippe Mariotti , who was killed in the line of duty near Halle in 1984. Among the participants were: German Army representatives from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Saarland, Fabrice Fischer (French Foreign legion Veteran) who represented with great honor and dignity our French brothers, the Mayor of Ludwigslust Herr Reinhard Mach, Nigel Dunkley (BRIXMIS) and his wife, and others.
MSgt David Dell, USAFE Band Bugler, attended and performed Taps and Aux Morts during the ceremony. Favia thanked the USAFE Band and the German Reservist Command and their members for the great and professional support, which they provided in the organization and execution of this very important ceremony.
Favia delivered remarks and read remarks sent by USMLM Association President BG (ret) Kevin Ryan (1989-1991) as well as COL (USMC retired) Lawrence Kelley (1983-1986). Kelley served with Nicholson at the time he was killed and was deeply involved in the investigation and aftermath of the shooting.
After a short ceremony placing wreaths at the memorial site, Favia led attendees to the exact spot where Major Nicholson was killed where Taps was played and a moment of silence was observed.
Favia also cited the following people for their assistance to this effort. From German Army Reservist Command Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Oberstleutnant Helge Stahn, Hauptfeldwebel Rene‘ Niemann, and Oberstabsgefreiter Andre‘ Niemann. From Reservist Association of the German Army, Hauptfeldwebel Frank Mohr, Obergefreiter Alex Tsapovskji, and Oberstabsgefreiter Karl-Heinz Rimpel. Stabsfeldwebel Jürgen Wittmer, Chairman of the Reservist Camaraderie Hassel, Reservist Association of the German Army, Saarland.
Remarks by SFC (ret) Thomas Favia
Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests and Comrades, We are again gathered here to pay our respects to our fallen comrades and brothers, Major Arthur “Nick” Nicholson and Adjutant Chef Philippe Mariotti. Both of these men fell in the execution of their respective duties for their Military Liaison Missions; Major Nicholson a few hundred meters from this location behind us, shot and killed by a former Soviet Soldier. Adjutant Chef Mariotti was killed in the vicinity of Halle, a few hundred kilometers from here, by a Stasi operative in a premeditated ramming incident. Neither of these men wanted to die here, in such a manner, but understood the inherent dangers of their profession, as we all did, and their deaths displayed the fundamental moral difference of the two political and military systems during the cold war. Let us honor these men and their ultimate sacrifice, with this humble ceremony, and continue to do so each year, so that their names and accomplishments may never be forgotten.
I would also like to take a moment in holding a special place in our thoughts for our BRIXMIS brother Nigel Wylde. Nigel contacted me last week and informed me that he only had days to live due to terminal cancer, and I would like to quote a part of his email: “So please have a suitable time in Techentin where my thoughts are with you all the way. I will never forget the time I spent training with Nick and being happy with his family. Wonderful days. BRIXMIS, USMLM and FMLM adieu.”
Remarks by BG Kevin Ryan (US Army retired), President USMLM Association
The members of the USMLM Association want first and foremost to extend our thanks to the people of Ludwigslust and the German military for their continued support of our commemoration: especially Mayor Mrs. Billabeck, COL Rene Nieman, and COL Helge Stahn. For those of us who cannot travel to the commemoration, your presence and vigilance over the site from year to year is a great comfort and blessing.
The death of one American soldier many years ago, pales in comparison to the millions who have lost their lives in war in Europe. Germany knows this sorrow better than most. But sometimes it is only through thinking of one person’s death that we can understand and appreciate the deaths of the many. As we remember Arthur Nicholson and Philippe Mariotti today, we can perhaps see the human face behind the cost of conflict. Their role during their time in the Mission in Germany was to prevent a war from erupting on the continent. Their sacrifice can still serve that role if we remember it as you have today.
Thank you all who have taken time from your day to come and remember our comrades. God bless you all.