December 16th, 2011
12:07 PM ET

N.C. soldier reportedly last to die in Iraq war

David Hickman was a star football player in McLeansville, North Carolina. He was a quiet man with a larger-than-life presence. He also holds the distinction of being the last soldier to die before the official announcement of the end of the Iraq war. That fact has made him a part of history, CNN affiliate WGHP reports.

Hickman, an Army specialist, was remembered Thursday by friends as the U.S. marked the official end of the war.

President Obama commemorated the milestone with an appearance at Fort Bragg, where Hickman was stationed before being deployed in September.

Obama, Panetta honor Iraq war troops

"As your commander in chief, and on behalf of a grateful nation, I'm proud to finally say these two words, and I know your families agree - welcome home. Welcome home,” he told cheering troops.

The coincidence did not go unnoticed by Hickman’s friends, who spoke to WGHP.

"That is so like David. He wasn't going to go out quietly. He's going to go down with a place in history," said his friend Logan Trainum. "He wasn't the loudest one in the room, but he was the most noticed one in the room. He just had that presence about him."

Home and Away: Share your tributes to fallen troops

Even in death, Hickman was making his presence known, his friends said.

"When it's in the history books, it's like we know what happened at the end of that war. And that was our friend, because he was a hero. Simple as that,"  friend Lyndsee Mabe told WGHP.

The conflict, which began in March 2003, took the lives of nearly 4,500 U.S. service members.

Earlier this month, talking to the Los Angeles Times, Trainum said Hickman told him troops were cool to Obama’s announcement in October that American troops would leave Iraq by Christmas.

"Today I can say that our troops in Iraq will definitely be home for the holidays," Obama said on October 21.

"They felt like people were going to make one last try to get them before they left," Trainum was quoted in the Times as saying.

Hickman’s mother, Veronica Hickman, told the Times that she had a message for Obama if she had the chance to meet him: "I'd tell him: 'You shouldn't have broadcast that everybody would be out by the end of the year. It made them targets. You should have slyly got them out.' "

“Hearing David’s voice” on the phone in November brought a thrill, she told the Times. He was excited about coming home for Christmas.

The next day, November 14, she got the dreaded knock on the door. The military had come to inform her that her son had been killed that morning by a roadside bomb in Baghdad.

See more from CNN affiliate WGHP

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Iraq • Military • U.S. Air Force • U.S. Army • War
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. El Flaco

    BTW, melvin, what branch of the service did YOU serve in?

    December 16, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      I'm wondering if they tossed his remains in the garbage like they have been doing with our War Dead for years now. You sacrifice your life on this earth for your Country's FREEDOM, and how do they repay you in the end? They toss your remains in the trash. Those were our children! ... Sickening

      Done believe me? http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2011/11/10/panetta-calls-for-review-after-report-on-troops-remains/?iref=allsearch

      December 17, 2011 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Ralph Spyer

      When I returned from Vietnam in 1968 after we lost Tet offense,not on the battle field but it showed our government lying . They lie about the number of NVA killed, they lie about the cost of the war,they lie about winning the war. I make promise to myself my children would never fight for this country. Now comes Iraq and the lie, they lie about the link to 9-11 ,they lie about weapons of mass disstruction. There is big money in a war ,There is big money in the fear of war. Make wars unprofitable ,war should not be used as a way to get the country moving again. The Vietnam Vets that spent the last 40 years in a VA hospital are dying off,the young Iraq Vets are there replacements

      April 21, 2013 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. loveit

    NOBODY should have died in this pointless war!!! Somebody please explain to me what the eff we were fighting for in the first place? Because they knocked over the towers? War solves nothing, & kills thousands!!!! Don't get me wrong, I have mad respect for all our brave soldiers, but they didn't have to die fighting for another country that don't give 2 spits about US!!!!

    December 16, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • El Flaco

      We were fighting because the Bush Administration said that there was 'no doubt' that Iraq had "20,000 tons of bioactive and radioactive weapons grade material."

      It turned out that Iraq had zero ounces of such material. None of it – not one atom – was ever found because it did not exist.

      December 16, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • closetiguana

      They tried to make that connection between Iraq and Al Queda. Unfortunately for them there wasn't one.

      December 16, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • loveit

      Thank you. Seriously, I have NEVER recieved a straight answer like yours before. I always get different answers that lead me to believe it was about BS in the first place. So basically, Bush made up an excuse to get back at them...It really upsets me that so many lives were lost over something so pointless. Over revenge....

      December 16, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • closetiguana

      loveit – I think you are confusing the Afghan war and Iraq war. The Iraq war had nothing to do with revenge.

      December 16, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Someone posted here that the Iraq war had nothing to do with Revenge. Hello friend I beg to differ. Do you recall George W. Bush's statement " I will get Hussein for trying to KILL my daddy."? He and Cheney made up this excuse to kill thousands and wound many thousands for REVENGE and Halliburton's bottom line. Check it out. Facts are facts.

      December 17, 2011 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
    • hph

      AMEN! but hey, at least we can rest assured that our brave soldiers died for a good cause, and that the country they fought in has completely changed from the US presence there.

      December 18, 2011 at 10:38 am | Report abuse |
    • lucianne

      We were fighting because some fool in t he vice president's office decided we need to knock out our own first line of defense against Iran, didn't you know? Because the war between Iraq and Iran had been going on for ten years, draining both countries and exhausting their militaries and keeping them out of our hair. Of course the shoot-em-up guys didn't notice that. Now we have a chance to play bomb-bomb-bom Iran for real. Nice, huh?

      December 21, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. closetiguana

    Dick Chaney still hasn't apologized for this obvious mistake. Next time politicians start the drum beat for war let's make sure their kids and grand kids are at the front of the line. Maybe then they'll consider the war's worth.

    December 16, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • lucianne

      Cheney didn't appologize for shooting his friend in the face. Why would he appologize for killing othere people's children?

      December 21, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Joe

    So Sad.
    The one thing I dont understand, is how did people expect us to leave Iraq unnotice?

    December 16, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • closetiguana

      Who's expecting that?

      December 16, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      @closetiguana
      "Hickman’s mother, Veronica Hickman, told the Times that she had a message for Obama if she had the chance to meet him: "I'd tell him: 'You shouldn't have broadcast that everybody would be out by the end of the year. It made them targets. You should have slyly got them out.' "

      December 16, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • closetiguana

      Joe- Oh thanks.

      They become targets do they? You see that's why we don't have mother take over military planning.

      December 16, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • closetiguana

      "It made them targets". I wonder what they were before? Allies to the enemies?

      December 16, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • KatyaKatya

      "It made them targets". These are the words of a mother insane with grief and have nothing to do with reality. I am sure the President respects her feelings and doesn't mind any of it. RIP soldier.

      December 27, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  5. El Flaco

    The Bush daughters did not serve in the military.

    The Cheny kids did not serve in the military.

    December 16, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Bush did not serve in the military either. It appeared that he did on paper but no one could ever find him. We know where he was though. Cheney did everything possible to stay out of service. Even at last resort got his wife pregnant just to keep him out. He had used all the other excuses.

      December 17, 2011 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
    • ThinkAgain

      All the "architects" of the Iraq and Afghan wars were chicken-hawks, except GW Bush who ostensibly "served" (if you call being AWOL for 18 months "serving," that is). They knew that America re-elects a "war president," that they'd make billions on war profiteering and arrogantly thought we'd be "greeted as liberators" and that the Iraqis would eagerly hand over their oil fields to us.

      Yes, if we elect a Republican as POTUS, we will go to war, probably preemptively again. Lord knows, Republicans don't know how to innovate new industry and don't like investing in our people or our country. They just want to make money, the easy and lazy way, and if they betray the country that has given them so much, well, then, that's just the price of doing business.

      December 18, 2011 at 2:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Asklepios

      Many men chose to get college deferments during the Vietnam War, but Dick Cheney went the extra mile, you might say.

      Exactly nine months (almost to the day) after the Selective Sevice removed the exemption for childless married men, Dick Cheney's wife gave birth to their first child.

      He was clearly a lover, not a fighter.

      December 22, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mike

    Rest in Peace Specialist.. HOOAH !!!

    December 16, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jody

    What did we win in this useless war. Oh yes billions upon billions for the Halliburton corporation who pays Cheney huge bonuses each year. And Bush killed Hussein for trying to kill his dad. Other than that it was a horrible blot in the history of the USA. I just hope that we will stop trying to police the world and take care of business at home.

    December 17, 2011 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jody

    I am so afraid that if we elect a Republican president this next time that we will end up in another war. IRAN What is it with the party that can't take care of America and let others take care of their business? Obama should have brought the troops home the next month after he was elected or so he said. Three years later – how many died in those 3 years. TOO MANY.

    December 17, 2011 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
  9. Bugs Ears

    @ Mike, not with scoring ONLY a 25 on the test to get in. Bush flying in the air with a tomahawk is truly an accident waiting to happen!

    December 17, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Aaron

    this is just awful. we are all responsible for allowing our leaders to take us to war in iraq when it was plainly illegal and not in our interest.

    December 18, 2011 at 1:30 am | Report abuse |
  11. ThinkAgain

    "It made them targets. You should have slyly got them out."

    With all due respect, ma'am, my condolences on your loss. You don't think anyone would have noticed that our armed forces were leaving, and that being an occupying force wouldn't already make them "targets"?

    December 18, 2011 at 2:08 am | Report abuse |
  12. Asklepios

    "President Obama commemorated the milestone with an appearance at Fort Bragg, where Hickman was stationed before being deployed in September."

    I assume Bush and Cheney were there as well.

    December 22, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  13. the word

    Obama is ignorant....sad.

    December 26, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
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    June 24, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
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    June 3, 2013 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
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