Judy Mandelbaum

Judy Mandelbaum
Brooklyn, New York, United States
June 01
Freelance writer, editor, and first citizen of Judy's World.

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DECEMBER 19, 2011 1:09PM

The last man to die

Rate: 11 Flag

 David Hickman



On November 14, 2011, Spc. David Emanuel Hickman of Greensboro, NC died in Baghdad of injuries he suffered after encountering a roadside improvised explosive device (IED). He had been assigned to 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, out of Fort Bragg, NC. He was twenty-three years old.


Upon being informed of her son’s death by the Army, his mother Veronica reportedly said: “I am proud of him. He died for his country."


David graduated from Northeast Guilford High School in 2006. An all-round athlete and gifted football player, he served as outside linebacker for the football team, was team captain and All-Conference. He also had a black belt in Taekwondo.


Like his father, who had served in the Air Force, David couldn’t wait to serve in the military. He had dreams of joining the Special Forces and enlisted straight after graduating from Ferrum College in 2009, attaining the rank of E-4. During his service in Baghdad, he earned a range of medals: National Defense Service Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Expert Infantry Badge, and the Parachutist Badge.


Combat operations were already officially over by the time David shipped to Baghdad. His platoon spent most of its time on so-called presence patrols, where they routinely walked through neighborhoods just to show potential troublemakers that the Army was still in charge. Speaking to the Washington Post, which took the trouble to highlight David’s story over the weekend, one of his buddies said that although Hickman liked the Army, “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.”


David was due to be shipped home on December 1st, but an IED got to him first while riding in a military convoy in Baghdad. He died from a brain hemmorhage en route to a military hospital. He is survived by his wife Calli, whom he married immediately before his deployment. He was buried in in the Garden of Peace at Lakeview Memorial Park Cemetery outside Greensboro.


John Kerry famously once asked: "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" David Hickman was the 4,474th and officially last US soldier to die in the Iraq War. On Saturday, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told reporters: “Those lives were not lost in vain.” I really, really wish I could believe him.


Sources for this article:
Washington Post
US Department of Defence


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I had wondered who that person would be. Thanks for letting us know, Judy. I share your doubts about Panetta's statement. He could hardly say otherwise, I guess, but someone has to speak the truth about this war. The platitudes only make a repeat occurrence inevitable.
Practice nonviolence and lovingkindness.

If generals, lawyer jag-officers (Lindsey)`
Graham etc., aren't in a killing mood then`
They are sucking otters and dead possums.
The NSA keep blackmail clips from motels.
They sip gin and are filmed on military base.
Generals a jag-lawyers are brown nose`ugh.
What sad days. No jobs, and GI's get tricked.
Who can judge. Who visited the other side?
Who died and dared had a language to say?

Angels came down and swept them away.
I remember a LT being riddled with bullet.
He was trying to save a PFC who was pinned.
LT Conners is on the black Vietnam Memorial.
LT dropped to the earth in a slow motion fall.
I can still visualize that sad day. His Mother?
Father, sons, daughters, and just wait? Wait.
Who died and came back to explain? None.
Maybe we are each a sole/soul individual.
Military training should be Peace Works.
I agree. Let's lobby to change mentality.

Days are fast becoming sad and broken-times.
I think of the Thomas Hardy poem pre-BC/BG.
Before gadgets and before contraption. Broken.
In Times of The Breaking Of Nations - Here again.
History gets repeated. Linsey Graham is a sissy too.
What is so-so sad? Hubris full critics are dead also.

Post Viet`Nam, or any war, Ya may see 1,000 miles.
It's to see at a glimpse. Discern. Left can be so dulls.
They symbolize the so-called walking dead. A corpse.

There will be many-many who walk as if done-dead.
Many GI's were naive? They answered war tradition.
Post individual death we may see thinks more clear.
I imagine the truth will eventually be told about Iraq and Afghanistan some day, but it might not be in our lifetime.

Thanks, no one expresses it better than you!
I wish I could believe Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's reply to the reporters, too, Judy. It is easy to talk when he hasn't been in those soldiers' boots. Thank you for your excellent reporting throughout the year. Best wishes for 2012.

And the same to you, Fusun! :-)
believing any single word spoken by an american government official would normally expose you to scorn, but i'm in a mood of loving kindness today.
Hickman may be (or may not be) the last American man to die because of this atrocity, but he certainly won't be the last man to die for it.
He served his country well, but his country didn't serve him well. It should think with much greater care about the consequences before it decides to send young people like him off to war again.