FACT: There's been an 18% increase in contest participation by members in the past year    
FACT: 64% of KCBS members own three or more grills/smokers    
FACT: 70% of our members grill-out/cook BBQ more than 25 times per year    
FACT: 56% of Americans report having a smartphone, 77% of KCBS members do    
FACT: 70% of KCBS members use Facebook    
FACT: 55% of members choose charcoal when cooking for leisure    
FACT: 23% of KCBS members work in the food service industry as a restauranteur or caterer    
FACT: Learning from friends, family and at competitions is the best way to improve cooking skills    
Joining KCBS has its privileges!
  • The official KCBS monthly newsletter, "The Bullsheet"
  • Access KCBS Preferred Rates at Choice Hotels
  • 15% off your total order from Papa Tony's seasonings and ribs.
  • One-day shopping pass at any Restaurant Depot location when you present your KCBS membership card.
  • 20% off your total order from Sadler's Smokehouse online store.
  • $0.50 off TABASCO Chipotle or any pepper sauce flavor!
Twitter    Facebook
Official Rules   Sanctioning
Red Hot News

Filter news by month:       Filter news by year:

First member accepted into KCBS Purple Heart Lifetime Membership program

Share this article:
September 13, 2017

KCBS is proud to announce a new program for Purple Heart recipients. Members of the United States military who have been awarded a purple heart can now receive an honorary KCBS lifetime membership. Members must submit a Discharge from Active Duty (DD 214) that identifies the veteran as Purple Heart recipients.

Master CBJ and Purple Heart recipient, Alan Nichols, suggested to the Membership committee this past summer this idea and KCBS agreed.

To kick-start the program, we wanted to share Alan’s story. Alan Nichols was raised in West Virginia. His father, Harry, served in World War II in the Army’s infantry division in the Philippines and his mother who was in the Air Force repaired airplanes in Riverside, CA. As a member of the Church of God, his mother, Rose, ran a religious home.  Alan’s brother, son-in law, father, and grandfather all worked as coal miners, as did Alan for a short time. It is a West Virginia dangerous way of life.  In Alan’s region, they lost 29 coal miners 7 years ago.

At 18, Alan enlisted in the Army during the Vietnam War era. He was trained in advanced infantry at Fort Polk, Louisiana before being sent to Củ Chi Base Camp in Vietnam.

In the middle of his service, there was a rocket attack. Alan was injured by shrapnel, later receiving his Purple Heart award stateside.   His injury was not life threatening.  If you ask Alan about his injuries, he quickly shrugs it off; mentioning his friend back home, Mitchell Hannah who gave his life in Vietnam. Mitchell was from Whitesville while Alan was from Sylvester, 3 miles away. With a note of sorrow, Alan remembers sharing his first beer with this friend back home, before either had enlisted.

West Virginia had more per capita casualties in Vietnam than any other state, 711 soldiers.

Towards the end of his service, Alan was at fire support near the Cambodian border.  It was January 1, 1968 and he didn’t know that the Tet offensive was about to begin. It was a long night, 24 US soldiers were lost, over 100 injured and 400 North Vietnamese were killed.  This was the start of 80,000 North Vietnamese attacking 100 cities by air and ground, launching one of the largest military campaigns during the Vietnam War. He found it difficult to bear of the weight of those perishing around him.  Alan didn’t think he would make it home more than once. When it was it over, even the trees were barren.

When Alan returned home, he flourished academically and in several careers. He was a fireman for 23 years. In DC, Alan was a postal carrier then postal accountant for 25 years and concurrently a master florist for 18 years. He worked as a DJ and a bouncer at a bar. Alan earned an AA degree from Beckley Junior College and BS from West Virginia University.

Some of his proudest moments were when he was stationed in Washington D.C. after Vietnam.  Alan served in the presidential honor guard.  During foreign dignitaries’ visits, a stop at the White House was normal protocol.  Alan stood beside President Nixon opening the car door for the dignitaries.  Being the closest to the president, he was the first line of defense to the President. It was his job to protect men like King Hussein, the King of Jordan and escort him to Spiro Agnew’s office, the Vice-President who served under Nixon.

Alan’s interest in becoming a judge began by watching BBQ Pitmasters on television. He took a CBJ class in Nelsonville, Ohio and has been a judge for 5 years. As a master CBJ, he has judged 65 contests.  His goal is to make it to 70 by the time he turns 70 this year.  If you want to meet Alan, his to-go contest is Lakeland Pigfest in Florida which he has been judging since 2013. He also teaches at each of the three NCBBQS boot camps in North Carolina as the brisket, ribs and pork instructor.

He was one of four staff members from the North Carolina BBQ Society that traveled to the Dominican Republic last month and taught BBQ at two culinary schools. They cooked 6 hogs and 200 chickens, feeding 1200 guests at the Ambassador’s Independence Day Celebration. Cooking hogs is a tradition in his family. His Russian immigrant grandfather, Lukuas Nikinovich, cooked 400lb hogs over a fire in the 1930’s in Dogpatch Hollar.

Alan considers himself to be very fortunate and never would have imagined the life he would eventually lead. As a 13 year old boy, he was run over by a car.  His hip was broken in multiple places but he recovered. He broke his elbow in high school playing football.  He broke his wrist playing volleyball and again when he was fishing. He broke an ankle at work.  Then he broke a couple of ribs during sandlot football. Maybe the shrapnel didn’t feel like such a big deal after all of that.

If you watch the recent video of Alan Nichols cooking hogs in the Dominican, he is tall and fluid in movement.  Surely, you’d never suspect that this quiet man who shovels coals into a BBQ pit is a war hero, a fireman, and a decorated soldier.  For all of his injuries, he looks able bodied and determined. Alan Nichols has earned a Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal for heroism, Purple Heart, 5 Air Medals, a Combat Infantry medal, National Defense Medal, Vietnam Service Campaign Medal, and a Vietnamese Medal and Unit Citation.

KCBS is honored and proud to have Alan Nichols as its newest a lifetime member.

Article by Donna Fong

Our Best of the Best 700 180 100+