Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Badly wounded by explosive in Afghanistan, Plant High graduate begins recovery

TAMPA — The morning after Mary Nicholson helped organize a church reception for the family of an Army lieutenant killed in Afghanistan, a Marine detail brought devastating news to her own doorstep.

Her 22-year-old son, Cpl. Michael Nicholson, had lost both legs and an arm to a blast from a hidden explosive in Afghanistan.

By that afternoon, July 6, a military ministry that Mary Nicholson had helped create at Christ the King Catholic Church to support families of men and women serving in Afghanistan and Iraq was at work on her son's behalf. More than 200 people gathered that day to pray for his recovery.

"It's a hard story," said the Rev. David Toups, pastor of Christ the King, "but it's the strength and beauty of people."

Ten days before he was wounded, Michael Nicholson, a 2007 Plant High graduate, had called the priest from Afghanistan.

One of Nicholson's best friends had been killed, Toups said. "He said he just had to talk to somebody."

Then Wednesday a week ago, Toups learned of Nicholson's injury. Toups got the word out to parishioners, who gathered at the church to pray that afternoon.

Nicholson is recovering at the Bethesda Naval Hospital near Washington, D.C. His family arrived in Maryland on Monday and could not be reached for comment.

On Wednesday, Nicholson endured seven hours of surgery, Mary Nicholson wrote in a blog on the Caring Bridge website. She said he has several surgeries ahead of him and that the next few weeks are critical because his body is vulnerable to infection.

She described, too, her reunion with her son Monday. He could not talk initially, but had tears in his eyes when he saw his family.

"We were so pleased to see our Michael as he looked so good to us!" Mary Nicholson wrote. "His color was good, and he was happy to see us. Within the hour they had removed the ventilator and he responded well. This is a big yet baby step into his recovery."

Michael Nicholson had attended Christ the King's school. His parents, John and Mary, are among the parish's most active members.

Toups said the military ministry was "Mary's little brainchild" because MacDill Air Force Base, home of the U.S. Central Command, has brought many military families into the South Tampa parish.

One of those families recently lost a son — Army Lt. Dimitri A. del Castillo, a West Point graduate killed in Afghanistan.

A Mass for del Castillo was celebrated July 5. Mary Nicholson and two other "military moms" hosted the reception for mourners afterward.

"Less than 24 hours, she was notified about Michael," Toups said.

Michael Nicholson joined the Marines in June 2008, a year after he graduated from Plant, according to his Facebook page. He worked at Whaley's Market and played soccer in high school.

In high school, he had a reputation as an easygoing, respectful student, former Plant High principal Eric Bergholm said.

"He's a really nice kid, one of those kids with a perpetual smile on his face," Bergholm said.

On Wednesday, Mary Nicholson wrote in the blog that her son was in a lot of pain but able to speak in a raspy voice.

"Before we left his room tonight I said 'I love you, Michael' and he responded 'I love you too'!" his mother wrote. "We have our Michael home and for that we are so very grateful!"

Reach John Barry at jbarry@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3383. Reach Jodie Tillman at jtillman@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3374.

Badly wounded by explosive in Afghanistan, Plant High graduate begins recovery 07/13/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 11:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. The 10 silliest names for college football bowl games

    College

    The Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl hadn't even been officially announced when SBNation called it the silliest bowl name ever. Ten others worthy of consideration:

    Logo for the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl. [MATT BAKER | Times]
  2. For starters: Rays looking for 3rd straight W

    Blogs

     

  3. Local craft beer of the week: Cherry Pastelitos, Coppertail Brewing Co. in Tampa

    Bars & Spirits

    On Saturday, Tampa's Coppertail Brewing Co. will celebrate its third anniversary with a Florida weisse festival, showcasing densely fruited tart wheat beers from more than a dozen Tampa Bay area breweries including, of course, many of its own brews in this summer-friendly style.

    Center: Coppertail Brewing’s Cherry Pastelitos. Flanking it are Coppertail’s BOMP (blood orange, mango, passionfruit), left, and Pinky Swear (pink lemonade-flavored).
  4. Here are the 20 most dangerous stretches of roadway in Hillsborough County

    News

    A new study of severe crashes ranks a stretch of Brandon Boulevard as the most dangerous in Hillsborough County. The study, part of the Vision Zero Action Plan, lists the 20 most dangerous corridors. [SKIP O'ROURKE  |  Times
 (2014)]
  5. USF football and the undefeated degree of difficulty

    College

    TAMPA — In the wake of the latest solar eclipse, USF fans eagerly await the next astronomical phenomenon.

    USF head coach Charlie Strong leads his team during practice last month in Tampa. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]