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. RUFFNUTT ( EXTREME PURPLE KUSH SMOKER )

    really sad...
    .
    i wish i could summon the watcher and make him find the killer and smash him..

    December 16, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mullah dadulah

    well deserved.american hooligans nneed to learn to respect other countries.

    December 16, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • ladydi

      I hope you die.

      December 16, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • skipper

      Fake name. Fake life. Fake heart.

      December 16, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • mullah dadulah

      before you start another war,remember how this one ended.

      December 16, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shirin

      Hey Muallah dadulah,
      yeah they are American and they are human same as you, shame on you with your comment, they engaged in the middle east war bc of people like you to save you and your family.

      December 16, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bigred

      There are circling drones for people like you.

      December 16, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • mullah dadulah

      they couldn't save themselves,they were hanging burnt from the bridge,they are now burden to all of us for the next 60 years,they kill themselves by 800/year,they kill their families and neighbours,they ask for money and good jobs on tv,while we who were working are robbed one trillion a year to pay for their misadventures.

      December 16, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Blahman

      Mullah isn't even muslim. He is a sock puppet poster created by an American/European to foster more hatred either for cheap laughs or to paint the Middle East in a negative light. Don't take the bait.

      December 16, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shaman13

      Bringing the troops home just clears the killzone for the drones and the C-130s. Shock and awe 2012, coming to a Mosque near you!

      December 16, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • INVet

      Remember, don't feed troll!

      December 16, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • ws6dave

      Mullah, just remeber that if American wanted to play dirty we would not have a 51st state.(The state of IRAQ) There was nothing to keep the US from absorbing IRAQ. The US gave the country back in respect for the people and country.
      Personally I think the US could have used another oil producting state, but that is why I am not President.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • mullah dadulah

      don't cry.you lost,it is hard,i know.lesson for the future.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. FHBOY

    At the outset: I support those men and women sent to fight in these wars. Salute to them. BUT...

    I have one simple question: As an American working citizen, a regular guy, someone who has a family, has a job, you know the Average American family, what did the war in Iraq do to make my life any better? Don't tell me about WMDs, Hussein, the people of Iraq, that's not what the question is about.

    How did this sacrifice of people and resources and money do anything for the 9-5 guy (woman) who just wants to live?

    MY answer makes me mad/sad: it made nothing better – all that cost and nothing is better.
    Merry Christmas

    December 16, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bigred

      The same question could be asked of every war we have gleefully entered into. The answer is often, nothing at all.

      December 16, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • skipper

      The question is what did it do for Iraq and its neghbors.

      The answer will be upto the Iraq people now.

      December 16, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shodori

      You can say the same thing about educating a child. Is this worth spending all this time and effort to educate someone that might not use this education. You don't know until you try but would you rather have educated them or not. Would you rather have people be free in the world or live in tyranny. There was a cost of life, if you look at the price compared to pass wars or want real comparison look at our civil war where we easily lost 4,500 troops in one day in a battle. Though horrible the price of this war in terms of life was relitively small. Democracy has been planted in the middle east.. it might thrive it might die, but if it survive it may prevent further wars and further loss of life. Sometimes the Ends justify the Means. We will just have to see and honor the sacrifices of those lives lost so others might have that hope and dream to have a better life they wouldn't have had otherwise.

      December 16, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ally

      Respectfully, I'd say we didn't enter that war to help you personally. We didn't enter that war to help me personally. I trust that our leaders made the best choice they could at the time. And really....we may never know how it has helped us on some levels. It's not an easy job; having to have enough vision to try and collectively keep an entire nation safe by making unpopular choices. And to know that the masses may never understand why they had to make those choices.

      December 16, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trigger

      Those who choose not to serve will never understand what it is we do (or did). You will, however, be the first to criticize. We did not ask for the 9/11. We did not ask for this at all. That said, when we begin a campaign such as Afganistan, and our troops are in peril, we will not tolerate ANY posturing toward our government (like Iraq mistakenly did when they were told to allow inspectors in). Agree or disagree with the reasons, you can sleep well at night knowing we protect you and yours, so you never have to know the brutality it takes to keep you free. Enjoy the freedom to post whatever you like, we bought that for you in blood. God Bless America, and God Bless Freedom.

      December 16, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • luvlar

      The answer to that will never be known. And that is the answer. We'll never know what life would be like today if we hadn't have gone into Iraq or Afghanistan More terrorist attacks like 9/11? We'll never know. But, what we do know is no one ever had to ask, Why didn't we do something after 9/11? That alternate time line or reality, for lack of a better word, my have been much much worse had we done nothing.

      December 16, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • FHBOY

      Thank you all for your replies, and I cannot disagree with a lot of them. "Me" was a general term, not meant to denote only myself. But the basic question asked was avoided or deferred. What did the sacrifice of these people do to make your day-to-day lives better in the US? Do you feel safer now? Do you have no fears any longer? Has your life, you yours personally, been made better – not philosophically, but when you get up in the morning and went to work or school and came home at night – did all this make your life any better on a daily basis? Oh, the kid in school argument, was a bit specious, there we can say our life, that day was better. I've got to get back to work, but I'll look in later to see if anyone can answer teh simple question: Is your day-to-day existence better for the sacrifices that were made in your name?"

      December 16, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL

      Wow, people STILL think IRAQ had something to do with 9/11 or terrorism? That is sad. Going into Iraq had 0 value for anybody that didn't making money selling equipment or filling contracts. It reduced our country's security and killed thousands of our troops to make money for military-industrial businesses that were barely scraping by. There was no threat from Iraq, at all. We took our eye of Afghanistan and allowed the Taliban to regroup and now we're mired there. Imagine how much better off we would be now if all that tax money spent in Iraq had stayed in our pockets. Think of the thousands of families that lost fathers, brothers, mothers and sisters. Think of the tens of thousands of wounded, physically and mentally.

      Balance all of that against, what? A trumped up threat that never was? An opportunity to make some well connected businesses to make money?

      Our troops are heroes, the politicians that sent them to Iraq to die for nothing are disgusting.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bobobobobobo

      Shodori:

      "You can say the same thing about educating a child"

      You are comparing a country to a child? Really? We planted democracy?

      ORLY? I hope you are right. I really do.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ladydi

    Too many dead soldiers. What a waste of life. God rest their souls.

    December 16, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Sybaris

    "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.' "

    Ma'am, they were always a target

    December 16, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Blahman

      Certain actions act as incentive and provocation to some people... I hope you understand that. Case in point, you were always an idiot, but now people really know it.

      December 16, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL

      Blahman, do you actually pay any attention to the news? Do you even know why we left so quickly? Do you know it was based on a very public decision by Iraq? Have you ever tried to secretly draw down 100's of thousands of troops?

      Do you have a clue?

      December 16, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. musings

    It would be nice if this really was the last man killed in the war. But it isn't over till it's over. There could be a "Black Hawk Down" type of incident. But then it would be defined as "post war" , which is only words.

    Still, how appropriate that someone of likely mountaineer stock from that home of kidnapped indentured servant Highlanders named "Hickman" of all names should be the last one out the door, by the typical IED as opposed to combat. He probably would have fought bravely as Braveheart if he'd had the chance. It was a dirty little war, when you get right down to it. Not worthy of warriors at all.

    December 16, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bobobobobobo

      ?!

      December 16, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. annebeth

    My heart breaks for the family of David Hickman and all who lost their lives in the war. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

    December 16, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. teresa, ohio

    welcome home soldier... thank you. RIP.

    December 16, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bigred

    Perhaps the last soldier to die in the war in Iraq, but certainly not the last American. We will still have 15,000 Americans there working with the State Dept. Pray for their safety.

    December 16, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Monk

    Respect

    December 16, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Shirin

    Hey Muallah dadulah,
    yeah they are American and they are human same as you, shame on you with your comment, they engaged in the middle east war bc of people like you to save you and your family, yes they are american but they are human too.

    December 16, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Blahman

      Mullah isn't even muslim. He is a sock puppet poster created by an American/European to foster more hatred either for cheap laughs or to paint the Middle East in a negative light. Don't take the bait.

      December 16, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. doug

    I guess these days soldiers families see nothing wrong in taking a shot at their own President, blaming the one that tried to get them home for their loss no less, and emarrassing the memory of their fallen soldier. During WWII such a foolish statement would never have been utterred. Politics is all that matters now.

    December 16, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Henry

    Freedom......is provided to all of you... from just a few. Get involved with Freedom and Patriotism... (not many countries trully have what we have).

    Parent of an American ARMY Soldier.

    December 16, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  14. skipper

    John Kerry said and asked during the Vietnam War the following.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HWGpLCeRfY8&w=640&h=390]

    December 16, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cedar Rapids

      That was quite some speech.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Observer

    I hope Bush sees this story and thinks about what he and the Republicans started. "Mission Accomplished" was over 8 1/2 YEARS ago.

    December 16, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • beartrash

      He didn't watch the news or even read his daily briefings while he was in office. What makes you think he's started reading since he left office?

      December 16, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
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