Local Veteran Spotlight: John Hicks – Pride in Service

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Texarkana FYI is honored to spotlight our local Veterans in a series provided to us by James Syler with interviews he has conducted with our veterans at local VFW Post 4562 in Texarkana, Arkansas. This week we focus on John Hicks.

This week we focus on the service of John Hicks.

Thankfully not every story includes combat. Thankfully not every story includes the horrors of war. Thankfully not every story includes loss. But, what each and every veteran’s story includes is the concept of sacrifice. Very few young people are willing to walk away from the only thing they know…home. Not everyone is willing to commit to years of service in which you have little to no control of the outcome. The truth is, no one that serves exists in the military as the same person that went in…it changes you. Military services change the way you think, it changes the way you carry yourself, it changes the way you see the world. The willingness to serve, and if need be, give your own life in the defense of your country is something that deserves our respect.

With the passage of time, it is easy to forget just how much fear the Cold War brought to the U.S.. From stockpiling non-perishable food to constructing bomb shelters in our basements, Americans grew increasingly wary of the Soviet threat. This week’s veteran spotlight focuses on John Hicks, a man that played a role in the protection of our homeland, from both home and abroad.

Mr. Hicks lost his mother at an early age. The loss of his mother, combined with the stress the long hours his father had to put in at work to keep the family together left him lost and looking for direction. It was at this low point in his life that Mr. Hicks finally found his pathway, he joined the Army.

In 1959 the Korean War was over, but the rebuilding of South Korea was just beginning. Many of the structures near the DMZ still showed the scars of years of relentless battle. Being an infantryman, Mr. Hicks’s first assignment was to an infantry unit near the DMZ. While the peace was holding, it was on the edge of everyone’s mind whether the north would continue to honor the agreement. Luckily the peace held, and Mr. Hicks had a peaceful deployment.

When he went back to the U.S., Mr. Hicks thought he would transition to a National Guard unit and return home to Hope, Arkansas, and more normal life. However, fate had other plans. When he first enlisted in the National Guard Unit, the unit was at their annual summer training, so Mr. Hicks was unaware that the unit had been tasked for an upcoming deployment. When the unit completed training, the unit, along with Mr. Hicks, was federalized and deployed to provide military support and protection for New Orleans…Mr. Hicks was back on active duty.

As the Cuban threat was ramping up, the U.S. called on the military to protect the homeland. As a member of one of these units Mr. Hicks, now a rigger, provided support to the ships that would later allow the U.S. to successfully blockade Cuba and prevent the further escalation of the Cuban crisis. It was later discovered that these units would have been early targets if the Cuban situation did not end the way it did.

After serving a year in New Orleans, Mr. Hicks finally made it back to his home in Hope, Arkansas to finish out the remainder of his National Guard commitment. Throughout the interview, Mr. Hicks kept mentioning the pride he felt in being able to play even a small role in helping keep our great nation safe. He felt like the military gave him the sense of direction he had been missing. Mr. Hicks, you should be proud of yourself, you were willing to serve during a time that so many others were not, and for that we thank you.

John Hicks

James Syler is a veteran, local community leader, the incoming president of our local Kiwanis Club, and a supporter of VFW Post 4562 in Texarkana, Arkansas. We thank him for his efforts to document the real stories of what our local veterans experienced. We are grateful to those veterans that share their stories for the younger vets following them. These veterans with the VFW are there for each other with a whole lot more than just guidance to vet services. They are there to support each other on a much deeper level, mentally and emotionally and that is a wonderful thing. It is our honor to spotlight these great American heroes. To submit information or suggestions for James, contact texarkanafyi@gmail.com.
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