Friday, September 21, 2007

Jon Hicks remembered

A Marine from South Jersey who "wanted to do something good" was killed in Iraq on Monday, the Pentagon announced Wednesday.

Lance Cpl. Jon T. Hicks Jr., 20, of Waterford Township in Camden County, was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated as his unit was on patrol in Al Anbar Province.

"He wanted to do something good," his father, Jon Hicks Sr., said Wednesday. "He went over there for our safety and freedom. ... I'm proud as hell of him."

Another Marine, Cpl. Carlos E. Gilorozco, 23, of San Jose, Calif., also was killed in the blast. Two other Marines were wounded.

Hicks, who was due to return from Iraq in November, graduated from Hammonton High School in 2005 and thought about going to college, but joined the Marines six months after he graduated, his father said.

He wanted to join the police force in Atco, the section of Waterford Township where he lived, after the Marines.

At a somber gathering at the family's house on Maple Avenue on Wednesday, Hicks was remembered as a "free spirit" who was filled with happiness and always joking, his father said.

"When he said, 'Grandma, I want to be a Marine,' I said, 'I protest,' " recalled Virginia Hicks, 85, of Waterford. "After he came home [from boot camp] he was so handsome. ... He was my heart and soul."

Jon Hicks Sr. recalled that his son left for boot camp as a tall youngster who was "skinny as a rail."

"When he came home, he was full of muscle," his father said. Hicks also has a younger brother, Kyle.

Hicks' unit -- the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division -- deployed to Iraq in April "just before the surge."

Family members sent Hicks candy and potato chips, which they said he shared with other Marines and Iraqi children.

"He said the kids over there always wanted candy," Hicks Sr. said.

The family learned more about what it was like in Iraq after it sent Hicks a laptop computer.

"In e-mails, he said it was very hot," his father said. "We sent e-mails all the time. He called once in a while."

The father recalled his son's last e-mail: "He said he wasn't going to be patrolling in two weeks, that he was almost done."

From the Record

Related Link:
Jon T. Hicks Jr. dies 'while conducting combat operations'