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. xetgib

    Hurry up and DI- HIPPIES, YOU ARE SCREWING UP OUR COUNTRY! AGAIN!!

    December 16, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • DB

      Kid, the "Hippie Movement" was OVER FORTY YEARS AGO. You're so ignorant, you don't even know who you're supposed to hate! You're embarrassing yourself, son.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • JMichaels

      As long as white countries believe they can send their armies to conquer non-white countries, the non-white countries will continue to kick them out – just as we would if they invaded us.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. saywhat

    Then again it is wrong to call Iraq folly a 'war'. We invaded & occupied a sovereign country & were/are there for almost a decade.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • John

      You're an idiot. Whatever else you want to call it, it was a war.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Brendan

    Great job in Iraq troops! We really showed those bad guys who's boss!

    December 16, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • boo

      yeah, that's why the whole world hates you cause you gotta dip your nose in every country to be the boss of oil. great job. and congrats to you brainwashed soldiers, welcome home bla bla speeches, when your president doesn't give a crap about him or any other soldiers that lose their lives every day in senseless oil wars. good job!

      December 16, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brendan

      Yeah bro I was being sarcastic.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. beartrash

    I'm confused, didn't bush declare "Mission Accomplished" back in 2003?

    I remember he played dress up and made a jet landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln, or am I imagining that?

    It seems too childish to be real.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bobobobobobo

      Yes, he certainly did just that... & people loved him even more for it. Disturbing, isn't it?

      December 16, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ryan

    You're dumb

    December 16, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Sue

    My heart goes out to this family and all the families who's loved one was killed in Iraq. It is a tragedy all around.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • mullah dadulah

      whose,not "who's".learn your language.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Roger

    I fear political considerations have trumped military ones for a while in Iraq. Defensive artillary drops halted because an Iraqi goat was killed; no unilateral American military unit action because of Status of Forces agreement when local Iraqi units reluctant to accompany US forces leaving our units vulnerable to attack; requirement to obtain warrant from Iraqi courts before attempting to capture insurgents; silence from our government in the teeth of sophisticated IRANIAN rockets used against US forces coupled with IRANIAN ground forces in Iraq. Give our guys a mission and get the hell out of the way and let them do it. Otherwise, do not put soldiers in harm's way.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • MarkinFL

      Ummm, ALL military actions are ending. Only embassy/diplomat security and possibly some training, like any other country we have a diplomatic presence in.(But this is a HUGE one right now)

      December 16, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  8. NEbySW

    Thank you Soldiers!!! Your service and sacrifice are honored by many Americans and friends around the world.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Observer

      AMEN !!!

      December 16, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL

      Now maybe they can get some time between rotations again and the ones that wish to leave can get on with their lives.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • TC

      Our warriors can take no more – the amount of deployments, especially on soldiers and marines, has been more than anyone can bear. COngress can keep up their antics with "showing their appreciateion and caring" but if thye really did, thye would either add a lot more people to the ranks or get out of the operations to not overtax the current force.

      December 16, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Buzz

    Our involvement here was not a 'waste'of any sort. It is another example of America shouldering the burden of defending freedom for the people on this planet. Bottom line, a vile dictator is dead. His death inspired millions to seek
    real freedom in their non-free lands. Those millions now seeking freedom, never would have thought it possible, before
    the dictator was removed. Many people in this debate overlook these facts, for petty poliitcs. The day we quit the fight for freedom, is the day freedom starts coming to an end on our planet

    December 16, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Britters

      Al Qaeda flys planes into buildings, Bin Laden was the shot caller=lets go look for Saddam. Ya, that makes sense!

      December 16, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      This war was a waste from the day it was initiated by us and it has become a bigger waste with each passing year. The Arab spring is much more of a result of social media and the new inablity to suppress information from the masses than it was removing some dictator from power. This war has helped wreck our economy, caused tens if not hundreds of thousands to lose their lives and forced hundreds of thousand of others to be disfigured. The final bill is estimated to be over 4 trillion dollars. This will never be seen as anything but a waste.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • FailCongress

      Freedom is not free pal. Freedom only comes at the expense of a dollar bill.

      How long do you think we can support freedom if we are bankrupt?

      December 16, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Buzz

      AT least you're thinking.

      December 16, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. saywhat

    @ John
    There was no declaration of war on USA by Iraq.We bombed, invaded and occupied that country and then continued operations against 'insurgents'.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Britters

    And only over 100,000 Iraqi civilians had to die to "protect our freedom." No big deal! This whole "war" has been a joke.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. R.T.

    This article is about a man who gave his life for his country. Instead of ranting about the war and politics, how about everyone paying their respects to this soldier and his family.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Britters

      Ya and he died for basically nothing. Died for a country that will keep invading countries and putting young adults in harms way for political reasons, money, oil, or whatever the gov't feels like at that time. EFFIN RIDICULOUS AND IT NEEDS TO STOP!

      December 16, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. saywhat

    What riles me the most is American lives we lost on the sands of that far off land without a cause. Most of us don't really care about the tens of thousands of civilian deaths, do we?

    December 16, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • FailCongress

      Out of sight out of mind. We would rather bury our heads in the sand and debate "feel good" topics like banning cell phone use while driving. After wasting time and money putting an unenforceable law into action we can all go home and pat ourselves on the backs for a job well done.

      December 16, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JJ

    Not one person should have died for this BS war. The Shrub ought to be hung by his family jewels for starting a war just because "somebody tried to kill daddy, mama!" Idiot.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. FailCongress

    Within a year the Arab spring will hit, our puppet government set up there will crumble and we will have another country that will be ruled by an extremist theocracy. We should never have been there in the first place. Thanks pres. Bush.

    Saddam was bad, but this country will devolve into something much worse.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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