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

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

    This is the last soldier to die in terms of "blame bush" still more soldiers will die in the future due to "magic obama".

    December 16, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer

      If "magic Obama" was president then, we never would have started this war. lol.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pliny

      Like bush, you are an idiot.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • RJMac

      You are an idiot, "the_dude"!!! Obama made the "promise" to return the troops from overseas when he first took office. Here we are almost 3 years later, and he is just now getting around to it??? Do your research!!! It was BUSH that gave the timeline (December 2011) for troops leaving Iraq, not Obama.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris Gil

      if "Blame Bush" had never gotten this war started in the first place the ~4,500 troops that died wouldn't be dead. So before you attack "Magic Obama" for the war, note he ended this war, not bush.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris Gil

      @RJMac, and how many years did it take Bush to get us out of Iraq? Oh yeah the end of his term. 8 Years and they didn't leave because of him. He stated "I am ready to keep them their 100 more years. "In late April 2007, the U.S. Congress passed a supplementary spending bill for Iraq that sets a deadline for troop withdrawal, but President Bush vetoed this bill soon afterwards" Maybe you should do some research too.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      @Chris Gil – it's actually you who needs to do some research. Obama did not end this war. The Dec. 2011 withdrawal date was already in place before Obama even took office. By an agreement signed by Bush and the Iraq government, an end date of Dec. 2011 was already established. Solid fact, do your research. In the past few months, Obama has been trying to extend the withdrawal date into next year (again, solid fact – look it up). But the Iraqi government pretty much said no and Obama was forced to follow the agreement of Dec 2011 withdrawal, again...established by Bush. These are solid facts. Obama did nothing more than follow the agreement already in place when he took office, an agreement SIGNED BY BUSH. Now, let's talk about Obama's campaign promise of bringing the troops home as the "first thing" he'd do in office and that we could "take that to the bank." Is it the first thing he did? Absolutely not. It wasn't even the second, third, etc. thing he did. He let three years pass, did nothing to end the war and let it ride out to the deadline, once again – established by Bush in 2008. Folks like you who try to spin reality any other way astonish me.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marshall Tucker

      People say that Obama would not have invaded Iraq, possibly...but he didnt vote against the invasion and that speaks louder then words.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL

      I do not even understand the significance of this argument. The Bush administration got us into this war for their own reasons, so us finally getting out 3 years after Bush is gone is hardly a major achievement for anyone.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL

      The ridiculous circus environment created after 9/11 that was used to bully politicians with the threat of being perceived as "un-patriotic" is what got us into this mess in the first place. It took a concious effort to use the public fear as an excuse to start this war. There is about a zero chance that Gore and company would have gone into Iraq. They had no reason to. Afghanistan OTOH is a completely different matter. There were good reasons to attack there, but of course we messed that up too by focusing all our resources on Iraq instead.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer

      Marshall Tucker
      "People say that Obama would not have invaded Iraq, possibly...but he didnt vote against the invasion and that speaks louder then words."

      Obama wasn't a U.S. Senator then. Try again.
      He had a press conference as Congress was voting then and said the war was a mistake.

      Let's deal with facts.

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

      "Would of could of" is always a pretty lame argument. Fact remains, we invaded Iraq and no further terrorist attacks have happened on American soil. Coincidence? Who knows.

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

      D., you have got to be kidding!?! Besides the fact that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 or any other known terror attack on US interests, please let us know what happened in Iraq in the past 10 years that had any negative impact on terrorism? If anything it created thousands upon thousands of jihadists that would have otherwise never been radicalized enough to kill anyone. In case you missed it we unnecessarily lost more than another 4500 citizens since 9/11.

      You know something? I started getting shorter hair cuts right after 9/11 and there hasn't been another successful attack against us. Coincidence? Who Know?!

      December 16, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. TODAY

    Thank God they are coming back from Irak...They should do the same in Afghanistan, pack and head back home while they are still alive.

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


      December 16, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ben

    RIP. He fought so valiantly for Halliburton. At the very least his family should be given some stock options.

    December 16, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL

      That's pretty cold. It may be a reality, but why tie it so directly to this family's pain? Let them mourn and let us learn the lesson for our sons and daughters. For them it is too late.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • A Veteran

      You have no idea what you're talking about.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • pat carr

      The last person murdered in Bush's pet war

      December 16, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ben R

      Ben, please keep your tasteless comments to yourself, SPC Hickman was someone's son, friend, and an American. This is not the forum to express your views against the War. It's easy to be a cold-hearted smarta$s here in an online forum, where you're safe and snug 4,500 miles away from the place that Americans with stronger spines than you sit in harm's way.
      Maybe you should re-evaluate your own life before you post comments like yours

      December 16, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Buzz

      Ben, we will see what the future brings.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marshall Tucker

      Not cool man, that kind of comment in the wrong place could put you in a whole world of pain.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • D

      Wow Ben, just wow. A guy answered the call of his country, regardless of your opinion of the war, and paid the ultimate price with his life. There is no greater sacrifice a human can do for their country than to give ones life in the name of their country. May you never suffer the pain this family will suffer Ben.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bubba

    Huh, War's over? I have a family member who is still there and will be going back after a short Christmas leave. So, if he gets killed in Iraq he's not part of the war??? The war isn't over for him.

    December 16, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL

      Our soldiers protect U.S. civilians in many dangerous locations. Those soldiers serve valiantly protecting our interests. However, it is still significant that we are no longer involved in open warfare in Iraq. The soldiers that remain or first go over there will be in the same dangerous place but on a very different mission.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • BDM

      The war isn't over for many, those still suffering from PTSD, TBi, and latent affects of injuries will always be casualties of this long war. The story is only about the official end of our military commitment, but there are still those serving in different positions in Iraq that must be remembered as being in harms way. Say a prayer for them and their families over Christmas/Holidays.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris Gil

      The "War in Iraq" is over. We still have troops stationed in Afghanistan. Also the any troops returning are their to strictly monitor the progress and help transition power back to the Iraq government.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL

      As BDM noted, "The story is only about the official end of our military commitment." The vast majority of our soldiers have one less thing to be concerned with (a big one though) and a dozen other seriously dangerous situations left to deal with in addition to the long term impact of the Iraq war.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • D

      Most likely will be considered a peace keeping mission or something now. My brother in law is scheduled to go in the spring, but mainly to start shipping equipment towards Iran, I mean back to the US. 🙂

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

      Nope, no peace keeping. Our military's (Marines typically) role will pretty much be to protect the embassy and its employees. Probably some training as well, though even that was back-burnered for now as well.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • D

      I hope you are right. Or maybe I guess I at least hope the region doesn't explode if we don't do a "peace keeping" mission there.

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

      Unless we decide to invade Iraq again or they change their minds and invite us back our soldiers will not be there in large numbers anytime soon. Of course the region is a wreck and could boil at any time. And we still have Afghanistan/Pakistan with no simple/good exit strategy.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |

    "David Hickman was a star football player in McLeansville, North Carolina. He was a quiet man with a larger-than-life presence." why do they always say stuff like this when people die? its never he was an @hole that no one like and was an alright football player that no one will miss. i dont know the guy but once some one dies its always he was the greatest guy in the world

    December 16, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • dc93

      I have a feeling the same will not be said about you.. Get a life man

      December 16, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marshall Tucker

      When you kick, Im sure the same things wont be said of you.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Pliny

    bush and cheney should have been made to dig every grave, by hand.

    They LIED to America about 'weapons of mass destruction'.

    December 16, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Remford

    Roadside bombs and we're pulling out.

    December 16, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL


      December 16, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. xetgib

    All you libs are going to look real stupid when BAGDAD put up a 100 ft statue of BUSH in the city, in 5 or 10 years.. REST IN PEACE SOLDIER!!!

    December 16, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bobobobobobo

      Holy cow, you're a complete idiot! I mean, your stupidity really just... I don't have words!

      December 16, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL

      Is that you George?

      December 16, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • USDemocrat

      Yeehaw, cowboy!

      You stupid hick ****kickers are the disease of humanity.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. xetgib

    Yall are right OBAMA would not have gone to war with IRAQ- He would have said PRESENT!!

    December 16, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer


      That's a really CLUELESS statement. Obama opposed the war from before it even started. Try doing some research next time.

      December 16, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. MontanaTrace

    As long as we have troops in Iraq, harm's way, there will deaths. This is not over. I'm disgusted how so many look at this as a place to write about blame. Righting wrong is what we Americans do. We give up lives to save lives. Most of you spend your mental assets looking at the politics and shouting down the other side. No one under fire asks his fellow trooper if he is a Dem or GOP, it's those safe at home that politicize every move. What you should be doing is asking the troops, "Hey soldier, do you think we should be here?"

    December 16, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. BethinMA

    Observer, are you Philip? You sound like him. Just sayin.

    December 16, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer

      You couldn't possibly be more wrong. I don't know who "Philip" is. Guess again.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  12. saywhat

    No you don't ask soldiers " do you think we should be there?'. You ask those ignorant thugs up on the Hill.
    Soldiers march when given the marching orders, they are not asked.

    December 16, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. DB

    "How do you ask a man to be the last one to die for a mistake?"

    December 16, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. xetgib

    No mama opposed everything about our country before the war, tell me something i didnt know!!

    December 16, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • DB

      Kid, you don't have the slightest idea what you don't know.

      It's not what you don't know that hurts's what you THINK you know but you're completely wrong about.

      December 16, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Chris

    This is sad.. R.I.P My Grandpa use to fly planes over Germany on bombing missions. His plane was the last bombing plane to get shot down over Germany.

    December 16, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8