Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Jon T. Hicks Jr. dies 'while conducting combat operations'

A 20-year-old soldier from Atco who dreamed of becoming a police officer after a stint in the Marines was killed by an improvised explosive device this week in Al Anbar province, Iraq, the Department of Defense said yesterday.

Lance Cpl. Jon T. Hicks Jr., a 2005 graduate of Hammonton High School, died Monday along with Cpl. Carlos Gilorozco, 23, of San Jose, Calif., during combat, the military said.

The men were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Hick's father, Jon Hick Sr., 52, of Atco, said his son had intended to go to college and then into the Marine Corps before going to the police academy.

"But he changed his mind," said Hicks. "He worked for a little bit and relaxed for six months after he graduated from high school, then went into boot camp" on Jan. 12, 2006.

Hicks said his son chose the infantry over military police because he didn't want the military police traditions to affect him when he entered the civilian police academy.

One of the Marine's grandmothers, Virginia M. Hicks, 85, of Atco, said Jon Hicks Jr. saw the Marine Corps as a pathway to law enforcement.

"He wanted to be a policeman badly and he believed if you've been in the Marines, you'd be the first chosen to be on the force," she said. "That's why he went into the Marines.

"Becoming a policeman was all he dreamed about . . . This has been a very tough time for us."

Jon Hicks Sr. said his son also enjoyed football and followed the Philadelphia Eagles. And he "liked playing video games and loved playing paintball," too, the elder Hicks said.

In addition to his father and his grandmother, Jon Hicks Jr. is survived by his mother, Cathy, and a 19-year-old brother, Kyle, all of Atco; and grandparents, Myra and Charles Worrell of Westmont.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer