SPC David Hickman: Last Iraq War KIA?
82nd Airborne solider David Hickman was the 4474th American serviceman killed in Iraq. He should be the last.
WaPo (“In Iraq, the last to fall: David Hickman, the 4,474th U.S. service member killed“):
Hickman, 23, was killed in Baghdad by a roadside bomb that ripped through his armored truck Nov. 14 — eight years, seven months and 25 days after the U.S. invasion of Iraq began.
He was the 4,474th member of the U.S. military to die in the war, according to the Pentagon.
And he may have been the last.
With the final U.S. combat troops crossing out of Iraq into Kuwait, those who held Hickman dear are struggling to come to terms with the particular poignancy of his fate. As the unpopular war that claimed his life quietly rumbles to a close, you can hear within his inner circle echoes of John F. Kerry’s famous 1971 congressional testimony on Vietnam:
How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?
“Thank God if David is the last one to die, because that means nobody else will have to go through this,” said Logan Trainum, one of Hickman’s closest friends. “But it’s crazy that he died. No matter your position on this war — if you’re for or against it — I think everybody thinks we shouldn’t have been over there anymore.”
U.S. combat operations in Iraq officially ended months before Hickman’s unit shipped out from Fort Bragg in May. His platoon spent most of its deployment on “presence patrols,” walking through Iraqi neighborhoods to remind insurgents that the U.S. military was still there, said Spec. Zack Zornes, who served in Hickman’s platoon.
Hickman liked the military, Zornes said. “But there were days on end where me and Hickman would be sitting in his room, being like: ‘Why are we even here? What are we doing?’ We were just doing police work. I totally agree with Hickman’s friends and family who are mad. We had no reason to be there anymore.”
Whatever one thinks of the war—I supported the invasion but have long since argued that it was time to pull the plug on the ensuing nation building folly—the death of a soldier after the announcement that we’re ending the fight is particularly tragic. That the war has been going on since Hickman was thirteen years old and that he volunteered for not only the Army but the airborne infantry fully knowing that he might be called to risk his life in Iraq doesn’t diminish that.