Family's tribute to Suffolk serviceman

THE grieving family of an American serviceman killed in a horrific head-on road accident have spoken for the first time of their shock at learning of his death.

THE grieving family of an American serviceman killed in a horrific head-on road accident have spoken for the first time of their shock at learning of his death.

Carol and Robert Kilpatrick also praised firefighters who struggled to save their son-in-law Staff Sergeant Gerald Nicholls, who was married to their daughter Sandy and had two young children Kiersten, 11, and Ty, who will be three in July.

Staff Sgt Nicholls, who was better known as Gerry, had served with the United States Air Force for 13 years, and was stationed in San Antonio, Texas, before transferring to RAF Mildenhall nearly two years ago.

He had recently signed up for a further three years service at the Suffolk base, and eventually planned to open a bar in Florida.


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"He was a wonderful young man, and we really enjoyed his company. He was very thoughtful, and always put his family first," said Mrs Kilpatrick, speaking from her home in America.

"When they came to visit he was terrific. He was so funny, and very easy to talk to – we would just sit and talk for hours.

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"We used to all get along so well. He will be sadly missed."

Staff Sgt Nicholls was killed on March 7 after his silver Hyundai was involved in a collision with a Land Rover Discovery on the A1101 at Sedge Fen, near Mildenhall.

Around 20 firefighters worked for around an hour to free him from the wreckage of his car before a search and rescue helicopter from RAF Wattisham airlifted him to hospital.

The serviceman married in 1990, and would have celebrated his 33rd birthday on Monday .

A remembrance service will be held in his home town in Pennsylvania on Friday, after which he will be buried in Florida.

"Gerry really loved the outdoors, and liked skiing, hunting and fishing," added Mrs Kilpatrick. "He also loved taking his family camping, and took them around England to see the sights when he had a weekend off.

"Gerry also liked to work on antique cars, and had his own at home in the States.

"The accident was a terrible tragedy, and we just could not believe the news when we were told.

"But we would like to thank all the people who helped Gerry, and the air force were great with Sandy."

Staff Sgt Nicholls served as a non-commissioned officer of combat arms in the 321st Special Tactics Squadron. A service in his memory was held at RAF Mildenhall last Tuesday .

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