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West Virginia Veterans Memorial

West Virginia
Veterans Memorial

Remember...

James Rush Hickman
1941-1965

"I do not believe that the men who served in uniform in Vietnam have been given the credit they deserve. It was a difficult war against an unorthodox enemy."
William Westmoreland

James Rush Hickman was born in December 29, 1941, to Janice Venton Hickman and his wife, Osea Grace Stewart Hickman. James' middle name was a legacy from his paternal grandfather, Rush Hickman. James Hickman's father was known by his middle name, Venton. Barbour County marriage records show that Venton and Osea were married on June 3, 1934, at the Long Run U. B. Church in Doddridge County. Osea was a Barbour County girl, and the family eventually resided in Volga (a community near Philippi) in that county.

James' birth record in Barbour County notes that his father was a farmer. However, West Virginia death records indicate that Venton was a tipple man, engaged in the mining industry in the preparation and loading of coal. High school classmate Terry McGee writes:

James Rush Hickman graduated from Philippi High School with the class of 1959. I did not know him on the personal side, but did have some classes with him. After high school, I left for college and then the military, so had lost touch with James. I did not know he had passed until our 10th high school reunion in 1970. Philippi High School was the local school prior to the consolidation of 3 Barbour High Schools into Philip-Barbour.

A fact sheet on the Vietnam Virtual Wall notes that James was a Methodist. (Source: "The Vietnam Veterans Memorial: The Wall-USA," accessed 29 April 2016, http://www.thewall-usa.com/.)

Little else is known of James Hickman's life until he entered the U.S. Army. He began his tour on September 9, 1965. He was a member of A Company, 28th Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion, 1st Infantry Division (a light weapons infantry). Specialist 4 James Rush Hickman was an infantryman. (Source: "Hickman, James Rush SP 4," Together We Served, accessed 29 April 2016, http://army.togetherweserved.com/army/servlet/tws.webapp.WebApp?cmd=ShadowBoxProfile&type=AssignmentExt&ID=514829.)

By December of 1965, James Hickman was in Binh Thuy Province of South Vietnam. There, he contracted malaria and died two days after his birthday on December 31, 1965, a little over three months after his tour began. He was just 24 years old. (Source: "James Rush Hickman," HonorStates.org, accessed 29 April, http://www.honorstates.org/index.php?id=278030.)

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs,

Throughout the war, disease accounted for 70.6% of all admissions with the remaining approximately equally divided between battle casualties (15.6%) and nonbattle injury (13.8%). The good survival rates seen were attributed to rapid evacuation, the ready availability of whole blood and well-established semi-permanent hospitals. Tropical diseases were frequent. Malaria was the most important. Over 40,000 cases of Malaria were reported in Army troops alone between 1965 and 70 with 78 deaths. However, this was less than had been seen in earlier wars because of the effectiveness of weekly chloroquin-premaquin prophylaxis against vivax malaria. (Prophylaxis was much less effective against falciparum but the institution of dapsone prophylaxis cut those cases in half.) (Source: Office of Academic Affiliations, "Military Health History Pocket Card for Clinicians: Vietnam," accessed 20 April 2016, http://www.va.gov/oaa/pocketcard/vietnam.asp.)

SP4 James Rush Hickman was one of the seventy-eight. His remains were sent home for burial in Mt. Vernon Cemetery, outside of Philippi. There, he is interred with his parents in a family burial plot. A granite memorial to those who fell in Vietnam stands in a park next to the Philippi Bridge. SP4 James Rush Hickman received, despite the brevity of his service, numerous medals, including the National Defense Service Medal, the Combat Infantryman Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, and the Vietnam Service Medal.
Hoey letter
Hoey letter
Hoey letter

Grave markers for Venton, Osea, and James Rush Hickman, Mt. Vernon Cemetery, Barbour County

James Hickman's marker reads:

James Rush Hickman
West Virginia
SP4 CO A 26 Inf 1 Inf Div
Vietnam
Dec 29 1941 Dec 31 1965

Article and photos contributed by Cynthia Mullens
April 2016

Honor...

James Rush Hickman

West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.


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