LtGen Nicholson is a 1979 graduate of the Citadel. He holds a MS degree from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.
Following Amphibious Warfare School at 1986, Nicholson served as a Platoon Commander at OCS until joining 3/7 in the fall of 1986. He then served as a Rifle Company Commander for Lima 3/7 and subsequently Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines until May of 1990. From June 1990 to July 1993, Nicholson served as a Company Officer and Instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy. Following completion of the US Army Command and General Staff College in 1994, he was assigned as a United Nations Observer for UNTSO Palestine. In 1995, he reported to Camp Lejeune as the XO of the Wolfpack, 2d Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.
In 1997, Nicholson assumed the duties as the 2d Marine Division, G-3 Operations Officer until taking Command of the WARLORDS of 2d Battalion, 2d Marines in 1999. Following a deployment to the Balkans with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, he was re-assigned in 2001, as the XO of the 2d Marine Regiment. Upon graduation of the NATO Defense College in Rome in 2002, he was assigned to NATO HQ in Brussels where he served as the Ground Forces Planner for the U.S. Military Delegation to NATO. In July 2004, he served as Division G-3 of the 1st Marine Division HQ at Camp Blue Diamond, Ramadi, Iraq. In July of 2005, he assumed command of the 5th Marine Regiment and deployed with them to Fallujah, Iraq in 2006.
As a General Officer, he has served as the Deputy CG for Marine Corps Combat Development Command; the Commanding General of the 2d Marine Expeditionary Brigade in Helmand Province Afghanistan; the Senior Military Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense; the Operations Officer for the ISAF Joint Command in Kabul, Afghanistan; and CG of the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton. LtGen Nicholson assumed command of the III Marine Expeditionary Force on 11 September 2015.