Editor’s note: World War II officially ended Sept. 2, 1945, when the Japanese signed surrender terms. We’re honoring the war’s area veterans over the next several months with these brief profiles.
Date of birth: Sept. 7, 1924
Dates of service: April 1945 to August 1946
Lives in: Clovis
Theater and location of service: South Pacific
Rank: Private 1st class
Unit and specialty: 187th Glider Infantry Unit with the 11th Airborne; chaplain’s assistant
In his words: Trained to jump from airplanes into combat zones, George Hicks was mentally preparing himself for the fighting in Japan — he never had to implement the training. Following the surrender of Japan, Hicks’ unit was reassigned to the arctic region of northern Japan and Hicks was re-designated as a chaplain’s assistant.
“I loved getting out of the machine guns and flame throwers and going into (chaplain work) — it was a wonderful experience … (but) I did miss getting the chance to jump” he said.
Diverse duties fell to Hicks. His responsibilities included everything from typing reports to assisting with burial duties. Hicks also found himself writing letters home — to the families and wives of other soldiers. Many of the men, he recalled, didn’t communicate with their wives and mothers, causing worry and strife on the home front. In an effort to ease this strain he was told to write letters home, soothing and reassuring the frazzled family members.
Taking it one step further, Hicks said he would go and find the errant cads, making them report to his office. “They had to come sit down and I watched them write (letters home)” he said.
Meeting good Christian people, both Japanese and American, was the best part of his job, he said. While a drastic change from Infantry and Airborne, Hicks found that his new position suited him well and left him with fond memories of service.
“I was very lucky to be a chaplain’s assistant,” he said.
He returned home from service earlier than planned, given a humanitarian discharge so he could help his elderly parents.
World War II profiles are compiled by CNJ staff writer Sharna Johnson. Contact her at 763-6991 or by e-mail: