Nicholas (Nikko) Wayne Schoch, Conscientious Objector, unarmed medic with B/3/187th, 101st Airborne Division, recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross* for actions at the battle known as Hamburger Hill (Dong Ap Bia/Hill 937, May 10-20, 1969), as well as Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars, died August 5, 2006 at his home in Salt Lake City, Utah. Nikko was a much-loved co-founder and member of Veterans For Peace Chapter 118, Salt Lake City, and an inspirational anti-war speaker and activist.
Chapter 118 has been named Nikko Schoch Chapter 118.
Nikko was born May 21, 1948 in St. Helena, California, the son of Ivan and Barbara Schoch. Nikko grew up in the Napa Valley and also attended high school in Sedona, Arizona.
After the service Nikko returned home to attend college at U.C. Davis, and eventually became an accomplished winemaker. Over time, he realized that the process of crafting his wares had become an occupational hazard. He retired from the wine industry and followed his caring personality to become a psychiatriac technician for many years at St. Helena Hospital.
In 1978, Nikko married Bonnie Nye, and together they raised two sons, Evan and Galen. Their elder son, Evan, was born with major mobility and neural disabilities, and the family made extraordinary efforts to “mainline” his education, using a motorized wheelchair, touch-sensitive computer for communication, and other technologies... Nikko was devoted to giving the boy as normal a life as possible; he would pack Evan on his back for hikes at the family cabin at Echo Lake, in the Sierras, so that Evan and his brother Galen could enjoy this place of peace and tranquility. He was greatly affected by Evan’s premature death in 2003.
Although Nikko and Bonnie divorced after nineteen years, they remained friends.
In 2003, Nikko moved to Salt Lake City. There he co-founded Veterans For Peace Chapter 118 and served as its Secretary/Treasurer. His voice was heard as he spoke in classrooms and at anti-war rallies. Nikko was honored with the first Chapter 118 “Peace Activist of the Year Award” in 2005.
We remember Nikko’s love of the outdoors, his messaged t-shirts with sayings such as “Nurture Your Nature", his bare feet no matter how cold the weather, and his constant companion, his devoted dog Heshe.
Nikko embraced Buddhism as a spiritual practice, and along with his friend and fellow medic Ted Sexauer was a member of Buddhist Peace Fellowship and the Veterans’ Writing Sangha.
Nikko is survived by his son Galen Schoch, nephew Chris Anderson, ex-wife and friend Bonnie Schoch, close friend Annie Bloom, and many other friends. His son, Evan, sister, Marsily, and his parents went before.
Throughout his life after the war, Nikko had to deal with severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He tried to deal with his demons with alcohol, which ultimately led to his passing. Rest in peace dear brother.
* DSC presented at the Presidio of San Francisco after his separation from service--see accompanying newspaper account. Also see photo of Nikko giving CPR to a GI named Willie Kirkland at Hill 937, which appeared in the Army Times. Also, a remembrance by Frank Barry Smith, who attended CO medics’ training with Nikko and served in the same unit with him in Vietnam.
Medic From Oakville Honored For Heroism
A Napa Valley man, Nicholas W. Schoch, former Army medic who accepted induction as a conscientious objector, stood at attention Tuesday during the Army ceremony at San Francisco’s Presidio where he was awarded the nation’s second highest medal for bravery--the Distinguished Service Cross. The 23-year-old draft resistor is credited with saving the lives of nine of his comrades while under a barrage of enemy fire in the 10-day battle at Hamburger Hill in Vietnam. Making the presentation is Maj. Gen. O. A. Leahy, Sixth Army Chief of Staff. The decorated veteran is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Ivan Schoch of Oakville. (AP Wiephoto)
Remembrance of Nikko Schoch by fellow CO medic Frank Barry Smith:
We met in June of 1968 at Fort Sam Houston. I came from Fort Lewis, but I don't remember where Nikko came in from. We were drafted about the same time, which would likely be June for Nikko as well. They first sent us to the two week thing before basic training with all of the other guys that weren't conscientious objectors. Then they sorted us and sent us on to Fort Sam. Now that I'm writing it out, I think that Nikko was on the plane with the other two guys from Sea-Tac down to San Antonio. One of the guys was a Baha'i and the intake 'sgt' was also a Baha'i. Apparently they knew each other, because when we gave him our orders to report, he pointed out that we had the weekend free, as the time to report was actually that coming Sunday (if memory serves). So we took ourselves off to town and got a room in a hotel. It was a bit like heaven, having faced for the first time the training face of the military, and then just two weeks in, to get a reprieve, if even for just a few hours. We wandered around San Antonio and enjoyed ourselves with the small amount of money we had with us. Then we went and turned ourselves over to the Army.
Basic training for CO's was only eight weeks, as we didn't get any weapons training. We were constantly getting our Sgt's and CO into trouble because we would call the IG at every turn. Usually the graduating classes on the day of graduation received 'privileges' , but we were singled out not to receive any. We went last to everything that day. I guess it was the only way they could take out their frustrations with us.
Nikko decided that we should go to leadership training as this would result in our getting a semi-private or private room, when they made us acting non-coms. Nikko was made sergeant and I was made a corporal. This occurred after we graduated from leadership training (two or three weeks-- I've forgotten) and went on to medical aidman training. Nikko got his own room and I had a shared room with the other corporal/squad leader.
When we finished med training they read off the list of those of us who would go on to Viet Nam. Everyone but our Baha'i friend went to RVN, but he didn't really luck out.... he got the DMZ in Korea. The Viet Nam bound guys then had a couple of weeks of VN training. Then we got time off before leaving country. We all went home and then met up again at the depot in Oakland. We also wandered off from the depot. We had to follow a taped line on the floor and leave our baggage. We did that and then decided to go to San Francisco. There were four of us. Nikko, me, and Guy LaPointe (his first name was Joseph, but we all called him Guy), and one other person, whose name slips my mind right now. We went to Ocean Beach and other places and then took the bus back to Oakland. We flew from Oakland to Anchorage and then on to Okinawa before landing at Bien Hoa, RVN. There we were taken to the repo depot (90th, I think), where we all waited around a few days. Then, one day they called out our names and assignments. Nikko and I received orders to go to the 101st Airborne Division. I thought they must be kidding. They weren't.
So that took us to the 'Screaming Eagle Replacement Training School' or SERTS. There we got more in-country training. We also had a problem during intake, as they hadn't gotten our orders and wanted to issue us with M-16's. Nikko and I declined the offer and were threatened with courts marshal. The next day, after our and files arrived they took the harassment down a notch. They were not happy having CO's in the 101st. We went through the training, but often had to be told to leave during weapons training, as to do so was illegal. So the CO status was constantly being broached in front of the troops. I suppose it was a sort of harassment, but the troops weren't that impressed with the sergeants, and thought of us as one of them, not one of the cadre. At least that was my impression.
When we completed that training we received orders to our units. When they read of "3rd of the 187th Airborne Infantry" for both Nikko and I, I again thought 'OH SHIT'. This was the unit commanded by Westmorland when he was in the Korean War. The unit wasn't in the 101st at that time and had it's own patch. That was the one Westmoreland wore on his other shoulder.
We were flown up to Hue Phu Bai and then on into Camp Evans, where the unit had its headquarters. We received our supplies and equipment and were sent out to the field in a very short time. We were both sent to B Company. On our first day in the field, Nikko had his first case. We were moving up a hill and one of our guys had pulled himself up on the barrel of the M-60 machine gun... It fired three rounds into his chest. He didn't make it.
Nikko was assigned to the headquarters unit of the company and I was assigned to the third platoon. When I got into the woods, the highest ranking officer was a buck sergeant named Alfie... He and another sergeant named 'Ridgerunner' ran the platoon. I didn't know any better. They were good leaders and fair people. We eventually got a lieutenant, and Nikko eventually had a Captain in the hq unit.
We worked out of Fire Base Helen quite a bit, and later in the A Shau, from Fire Base Airborne. When my tour was up I chose to leave and serve out the rest of my requirement in the states. Nikko wanted to get out sooner (because of the “five-month early-out deal). He extended. It was near the end of my tour that we learned that Guy had been killed. I remember Nikko telling me. It was night and we were bunking down in a sandbagged hootch.
I almost forgot. I got pulled out of Bravo Co and transferred to Alpha some time during the last half of my tour. Alpha had been over-run and they lost three of their medics. That was another 'Oh shit' moment for me.... as they were staying in place at the FB where they had been overrun. All of the vehicles had been burned and the place was a mess.
But that has nothing to do with Nikko.
I called him a few times after I got back. He was living in the Napa Valley. I was working in a sawmill on the coast of Washington. Then I only called him about every year for a while, and then we lost touch. I had moved a few times and lost his number during one of those moves. He was a good man.