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US Marine BAR rifle gunner to receive Silver Star for Korean War heroism.

Release Date: 8/2/2011

PFC James Nicholson takes aim with his Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) in Korea, 1951.


As the company founded by John M. Browning, the legendary inventor of many of America’s most effective military weapons of all time, we at Browning salute the bravery and dedication of all those who have served in the Armed Forces of the United States.

Many of our sporting firearms, like our latest Browning BAR LongTrac and ShortTrac rifles draw upon the inspired designs introduced by our founder. All of the qualities that made John M. Browning’s military BAR a success for more than a half century – reliability, durability and accuracy – make today’s Browning BAR sporters perfect for your next hunting adventure.

Every so often we run across a compelling story of combat heroism that involves one of John M. Browning’s famous military weapons, and we’d like to share this one with you. It takes place more than a half century ago, on a dark spring night during the Korean War.

James Nicholson of Greenville, Texas went into action as a Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) gunner serving with G Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Regiment, of the 1st US Marine Division. On the night of April 22, 1951, PFC Nicholson’s fire team was surrounded by enemy troops and came under intense fire. After using his BAR to destroy an enemy machine gun position that was causing havoc among the Leathernecks, Nicholson advanced under heavy enemy fire to retrieve a wounded NCO and returned him to a friendly position for medical aid. Following that action Nicholson’s platoon leader indicated he was recommending him for the Silver Star. Months later Nicholson was severely wounded in combat and evacuated for medical treatment. Unfortunately, due to several bureaucratic snafus that are so typical in war, Nicholson’s Silver Star and Purple Heart were not awarded at that time.

After his military service in Korea Nicholson returned to his home, married and studied medicine to become a physician. After a seven-year delay Dr. Nicholson was finally awarded his Purple Heart. At a reunion of his US Marine Corps unit some 46 years after the fateful fire fight in 1951, Dr. Joe Webber of Texas A&M University-Commerce learned that Dr. Nicholson had never received his Silver Star. Dr. Webber initiated a 10 years-long campaign to see that this injustice would not stand, and was ultimately successful in persuading the Marine Corps and the Navy to correct their error.

And so on Saturday, August 20, 2011, after a delay of more than 60 years, Dr Nicholson will receive his Silver Star in a formal ceremony in Rockwall, Texas.

We at Browning are proud of the heroic actions of Dr. Nicholson. And to all of you who serve on the front lines in the fight for freedom today, we wish you a successful completion of your mission and a safe return to your family and friends.




Shell fragment removed from PFC James Nicholson, along with his Order of the Purple Heart medal.








Shown above is a current Browning BAR Safari model. Click here to get more details. Shown with the Browning BOSS accuracy system.

This is an example of an early, original military BAR, similar to the one carried and used by James Nicholson in Korea. This is the model designed by John M. Browning. BARs were used briefly in WWI as well as throughout WWII and Korea. (Photo from Army Heritage Museum Collection.)

A special thanks to Robyn Hollis Price -- Library Cataloging Assistant, James G. Gee Library, Texas A&M University-Commerce -- for assistance with this article.  Photographs are Copyright and used with permission. Article by Browning staff writer, Scott Engen. Copyright Browning 2011.

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