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. unowhoitsme

    Another death that was totally preventable...we were told the war would end 2+ years ago. This soldier and so many more would be alive today. The cost of greed.

    December 16, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer

      Our "mission" was "accomplished" more that 8 1/2 years ago according to the guy who started the war.

      December 16, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      yet we let a country deprived of an sense of freedom in the last 40 years get a taste of it and let them start making their own path to a free and democratic country like ours. The citizens of the U.S that are stupid backseat drivers that think they know all just need to shut up and be grateful they can get fat off of McDonalds or enjoy w/e indulgentcies without any true reprocussions other than your doctor calling you a lazy F@#k.

      So please be thankful for the freedom you have and thank fellow soldiers and vets for preserving your freedom even if the signs were not slapping you in the face.

      December 16, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mercenary76

    There may be more that are killed in Iraq since there will still be troops stationed in that country . It does not make his death any easier to bear though . This experience in Iraq will have given our troops what they need to know for the next M uslim country that America has to go to war against . The war against the menace is not over .

    December 16, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • CA Dude

      Well said!

      December 16, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      lawl I am sorry but the Cristian based religions have caused way more death and turmoil than any other religious base out there... If anything we are the tyrants of the world but that is also why we hold ourselves as the worlds police.

      No reason most of the world hate us... lawl

      December 16, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. tony

    More Americans will die in Iraq. This sounds a lot like when George W called the war won.

    December 16, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Steve Sproles

    I am sorry that your husband was the last man to die in Iraq. That said I am also sorry that the other 4500 people had to die as well. When we pull our head out of our collective asses and elect Ron Paul these stupid wars will end. No more rock star presidents. No more status quo.No more gov't. givaways!
    Obama can KEEP his change! We need to elect real change. Ron Paul 2012!

    December 16, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer

      Not another Republican president. The last one started this grossly expensive war and then didn't want to pay for it.

      December 16, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      I am pretty sure the clinton era law signings for ERA mortages is what caused the bank fallout and our real demise in the economy... He was a democrat... honestly our country needs to move to a system like the germans that have 9 major parties so things are more banced in the house and senate... The old days of rep vs dems is outdated and needs to go.

      December 16, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |

    The act of serving his country wearing the uniform and laying down his life makes this man a hero, the setting, region, country, war, conflict makes no difference!

    December 16, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Kindasorta

    I am saddened by your loss Ms. Hickman, truly I am.

    December 16, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Hass

    the war with Iraq was bull**** war we lost lots of good americans. dick and geroge are somewhere gulfing while 4500 us soliders in grves will never the sun agian.

    December 16, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Wanderer81

    ...I never thought these "first" or "last" stats were very appropriate. As though there is some special burden the families of the fallen have to bear. You are all heros to me regardless of when you died for my freedom.

    December 16, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hass

      they didnt die for your freedom they died for someone else oil war sorry thats the turth i lost firend in the amry for this stupid war

      December 16, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • closetiguana

      Wanderer81- Your freedom? Did Iraq threat your freedom?

      December 16, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Pragmatic

    The War of 10,000 lies.
    Support for the Iraq war was drummed up by the Bush Admin. leaking false stories from the Pentagon & WH to the press, who would then pick up on them and wind up interviewing in many cases, the source of the false story. The result was 4,500 US and over 100k Iraqi lives lost at a cost of over $2 trillion dollars. And while Dick Cheney was 100% convinced they knew where the WMD's were, the sources for their existence were known to be liars before a single shot was fired. It is a extreme betrayal of the sacred trust between the Executive branch and the U.S. military to use them as "dumb stupid animals" as was done in Iraq. I am both honored by their faith in the U.S. and saddened by its betrayal by those playing political power games. We owe them a debt that can never be repaid.

    December 16, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  10. lineman

    i am sorry for the last man to die in Iraq. I am sorry for all who died in Iraq. I feel for all who were wounded in Iraq and will never be the same. I am also sorry for all the more than 58,000 who died in Vietnam before they changed the cities name from Saigon to Ho Che Min city. All the rest of us can do now is to vow to never again elect another president who will send this nation to war unless we are actually threatened. Few if any still believe Bush's explanation claiming he was confused about American intelligence concerning WMD's. Sometime before he dies Bush owes these soldiers the real explanation for the war. We all know what it is but Bush needs to at least become a real human being and say it.

    December 16, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  11. PD Gupta

    It was a war only applauded and supported by the political conservatives and the real friends of Israel in the Washington, DC It had helped to create thousands of rich people associated directly or indirectly with the business of Wall Street during the period 2003 and the end of Bush presidency in 2008 and after that, the same Iraq war had created millions of people homeless in the Main Street and everything in between was beyond the control of Mr. Obama who simply had tried his best to bring an end of US atrocity in Middle East and Iraq after he became the US president in January 2009. Mr. Hickman had died in Iraq not because Mr. Obama had said something to the US troops that Mrs. Hickman had deemed wrong but because of his (Mr. Hickman) destiny and untimely presence at the wrong place at the wrong time. The official end of US Iraq war yesterday is the beginning of a new chapter in US History that needs to be written carefully by the scholars in years to come.

    December 16, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Alan

    Sad.......completely bungled war by the last administration...Thank God we have a president with the brains to get the hell out of there

    December 16, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Chaya

    Each and every soldier who died has become part of history.....

    December 16, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jerry

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

    A very cruel "joke" !

    December 16, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jen

    This is so stupid. The war is not over! I know people who were JUST deployed last week and who will continue to be deployed. Nothing has changed. Just because you say it's over doesn't mean it is.

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

      "Nothing has changed" Obviously, you didn't read the story.

      December 16, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
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