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Naval Legend and Original Naval Commando Honored at SEAL Graduation

by Lt. Teresa Meadows, Naval Special Warfare Center Public Affairs
03 July 2023

The indomitable spirit of Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Art Nicholas, one of the first naval commandos and a celebrated World War II veteran, was honored once again as Basic Training Command (BTC) paid tribute to him with a Trident presentation during the SEAL Qualification Training Class 355 graduation this week.

This remarkable recognition held immense significance as Nicholas, a member of the Scouts and Raiders, helped lay the foundation for Naval Special Warfare (NSW) before the Trident was a symbol of the Navy SEALs. After celebrating his 100th birthday in February, Art was unable to travel due to his age. However, his enduring legacy was recognized through the attendance of his devoted son, Jeff Nicholas, who traveled to Coronado to receive the Trident on his father's behalf, signifying his honorary status as a U.S. Navy SEAL.

The three-day long event commenced with the Knife Ceremony, a poignant tradition that symbolizes the passing of responsibility and authority from one generation of warriors to the next. Jeff, standing among the Navy SEAL candidates, embodied the proud legacy of his father, Art, as one of the original naval commandos who paved the way for the formation of NSW and the Navy SEALs.

Following the Knife Ceremony, the SQT Class 355 graduation dinner provided a momentous platform for graduating candidates and attendees to come together and pay their respects to BM1 Art Nicholas. As Jeff Nicholas spoke on his father's behalf, he shared stories that highlighted Art's unwavering dedication to his country and his instrumental role in shaping the history of NSW. The BTC quarterdeck was adorned with photographs capturing Art's heroic exploits, offering a visual testament to his extraordinary service. Admirals, officers, and fellow Navy SEALs joined in expressing their heartfelt gratitude and admiration for Art's selfless contributions. The collective appreciation and camaraderie in the room served as a testament to the profound impact Art Nicholas made on the lives of those he served alongside.

The highpoint of the week arrived with the SQT Class 355 graduation ceremony on June 30. Jeff Nicholas stood before the crowd to receive the Trident on behalf of his father. This ceremonial transfer of responsibility represented the legacy of BM1 Nicholas and his role as one of the original naval commandos. It signified Art’s honorary status as a SEAL, symbolizing the enduring bond between past and present generations of warriors who embody the indomitable spirit of the Navy SEALs.

Addressing the audience, Capt. Timothy Sulick, commanding officer of BTC, recounted BM1 Nicholas' valorous actions during World War II and his principled contributions to the Navy.

"Art Nicholas embodies the essence of a true American hero, exemplifying the finest qualities of a Navy SEAL. As one of the original naval commandos, his legacy is etched in the fabric of NSW," Sulick stated with utmost reverence. "Today, as we honor him at this SQT graduation, we pay tribute to his extraordinary service and the timeless legacy he has left behind."
The Navy's tribute to BM1 Art Nicholas, underscores the enduring importance of honoring those who have shaped the history of NSW and the SEAL Teams. It serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by brave men and women throughout history and the indomitable spirit that continues to shape the Navy's elite warriors.