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Hicks personified being a hero: He held watch over the U.S.A.

Family, community mourn the loss of a favorite son

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Wednesday, November 21, 2012

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Sgt. Channing “Bo” Hicks, 26, was killed in action last Friday in Paktika province, Afghanistan. Hicks and Spc. Joseph A. Richardson, 23, of Booneville, Ark., suffered fatal injuries when enemy forces attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device and small arms fire, according to the Department of Defense’s standard release. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan. 

U.S. Army / Department of Defense

Sgt. Channing “Bo” Hicks, 26, was killed in action last Friday in Paktika province, Afghanistan. Hicks and Spc. Joseph A. Richardson, 23, of Booneville, Ark., suffered fatal injuries when enemy forces attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device and small arms fire, according to the Department of Defense’s standard release. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan. 



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Chan, Bo's father, and Kay

Jim Fair

Chan, Bo's father, and Kay "Mimi" Hicks, his paternal grandmother, shared their memories of a young boy determined to join the U.S. Army and make a difference in other people's lives."



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Dennis

Jim Fair

Dennis "Pepper" Hicks reverently holds a dirty U.S. Flag patch that had fallen off Bo's uniform. “Look at this patch how it is dirtied and had been worn by Bo in battle defending our country. He cared for people way before he was in the Army," said Pepper.



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Bo Hicks played youth football in Wren but later played at Greer High School. 

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Bo Hicks played youth football in Wren but later played at Greer High School. "He loved the Greer High Yellow Jackets with all his heart," said Mimi.



Memories, tears and heartache filled the house Bo Hicks grew up. 

Three generations of the Hicks family and friends had gathered there Tuesday afternoon, waiting for Army personnel who were coming to tell them about the military honors and protocol that would take Bo to his final resting place.

The last time Bo was home before he left for Afghanistan, his father, Chan Hicks, took him out to dinner, just the two of them. “I broke down, gave him a big hug, and told him how proud I was of him,” Chan said, remembering the moment. It would be the last time he would see his son.

Bo was serving his third tour in battle. He served two tours in Iraq and was on his first tour in Afghanistan. “I had a hard a time letting him go,” Kay “Mimi” Hicks, his paternal grandmother said. “The only consolation was he died what he was happiest doing.”

During Bo’s first tour in Iraq he was wounded in the leg, taking shrapnel from mortar fired at his unit. He remained in Iraq and finished his tour. “He re-upped while he was recovering from his injury,” Chan said.

“He didn’t have to go to Afghanistan. He felt it was his sense of duty, his conviction.” 

Memories

In the crowded living room, an enthusiastic discussion centered around whether Bo was a “daddy’s boy.” Mimi quickly interjected, “He was a ‘Mimi’s’ boy,’ ” she said proudly, pointing to herself. 

Bo was mischievous as well as adventurous. “He liked to pull something on you and rub it in,” Chan said, laughing at the memory.

 “Sleeping in a tent with Bo outdoors, I had snails all over my hair,” Mimi said smiling. “He was just a good all-around person. I believe that from the bottom of my heart.”

A cousin, Travis Trammel, said Bo had been focused on joining the Army since the 9th grade. “He often talked about the Army. It was something he wanted to do for quite a while.” 

 Mattie Hicks Page, Bo’s great-grandmother, said she often kept Bo overnight. “He wanted to spend the night with me because I baked pies, and he loved my apple pie.”

That led into a discussion of some of Bo’s favorite foods. “Homemade pound cake,” an uncle, Dennis “Pepper” Hicks, said. “He loved macaroni pie,” Mimi said of one of her signature dishes.” “You have to have extra sharp cheese,” Pepper said. “Plenty of milk and eggs, too,” Mimi added.

Bo played a year of football at Greer High School and then participated in track and field.  He graduated in 2006. “He loved the Greer High Yellow Jackets with all his heart,” Mimi said. She was wearing a gold sweatshirt with Greer Yellow Jackets on it Tuesday. 

Bo was passionate about following his brother, John, a senior linebacker for the Yellow Jackets. At halftime of the second-round playoff game versus Union County, Mimi called a reporter in the press box to ask how Greer was doing. Mimi couldn’t attend the game and Bo was calling to find out the score. Mimi relayed the good news that Greer was ahead at halftime, 14-12. The Yellow Jackets Network reported Bo’s phone call. It was made at approximately 3:30 a.m. Afghanistan time.

The pickup truck Bo drove while at Greer High was covered with about 150 stickers, said Chan. “They did a story on him and had a photo of that truck with Bo lying on the truck. He was fun to be around and always had that smirk kind of smile.”

Father and son

 Chan and Bo scheduled a time for their phone conversations a week in advance. “I lived my week for those calls,” Chan said. A missed phone call made for a long next week until Bo and Chan connected again.

“One time I got a call while working in the plant and saw the six-digit number come up that indicated it was Bo,” Chan said. “I told him to stay on the line, it was noisy and I was nearly running to get out of the building so I wouldn’t lose the signal. I got to the double doors to go outside, and as soon as I stepped through I lost the signal. I guess he couldn’t call back. I was so disappointed I missed that call.”

Conversations between Bo, said Chan, centered on each other’s recent activities and family. “He loved what he was doing,” Chan said. “Sometimes we would talk about the bureaucratic system and what it would be like to be in the Army for 20 years. He talked about making the Army a career. He re-upped and that would have taken him to 2016 and he would have been in for 10 years. We discussed what it would be like when he was 38 years old.”

Bo also talked about joining law enforcement, specifically the highway patrol. “He wanted to make a difference in life,” Chan said.

Chan described how he and Bo often talked about making key life decisions. Tears welled up in Chan’s eyes when he talked about a relationship between father and son that naturally grew man-to-man. 

He reminisced about the time he and a young Bo would be throwing a football on the front lawn. The snowball fights. Days when Chan would come home from work, there would be Bo, on the front steps, holding court for his neighborhood friends. “It was like a meeting place for all the kids,” Chan said. He pointed to the red truck parked on the side of the house. “Man, I remember all the times we took that truck fishing and hunting. Those were good times.”

All about family

Bo’s letters home were written to the family. “He always thought about them,” Chan said. “The only bad thing he said about being in the Army was being away from home.”

“He wanted to make everybody happy and when he was home he wanted to spend time with family,” Mimi said.

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