Nicholas was born on November 18, 1905, in New York City to Italian immigrants, Dominic and Mariane. He was the youngest of fourteen children and the only member of his family born in the United States. However, he showed his patriotism when he enlisted in the United States Navy at the age of sixteen, using his older brother Anthony's ID. He served honorably for 33 years. He was at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked, participated in sinking the dreaded German battleship Graf Spee and was even stranded on a lifeboat for four days in the Bering Strait. Among other decorations he was awarded the Purple Heart and in peacetime he was also a champion wrestler of the U.S. Navy. After retiring from the Navy he worked as a private investigator and then married and worked for New York Central Railroad as an electrician.
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