RALEIGH — As a sapper in the Army, Cpl. Darrion Hicks cleared the route and created a path for other soldiers in his unit, a role that reflected the way he lived all aspects of his life, friends and family said Wednesday as Hicks was laid to rest.
Hicks, 21, a 2009 graduate of Broughton High School in Raleigh, died July 19 in Ghazni, Afghanistan after a roadside bomb detonated along a highway that he was clearing as part of a team. The route clearance patrols help protect against explosives planted along the road by insurgents. Hicks served as a vehicle-mounted mine detector operator.
Hicks embraced his duty, completing training and participating in a rigorous Best Sapper competition held by the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, based in Germany. Time stopped on July 19th, and the impossible became possible. ... The only scenario we could imagine was that God was running low on sappers, his unit wrote in a letter read by Brig. Gen. Scott Donahue at the memorial service. The service, held Wednesday at the Progress Energy Center, drew hundreds of family, friends and veterans.
The letter fondly recalled Hicks energy, sense of humor and upbeat attitude, noting that he beat his unit in a foot race wearing Batman pajamas.
Before guiding the way on the battlefield, Hicks led his peers as a student and member of Air Force Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps at Broughton High School. A cadet captain and member of the drill team and color guard, he was awarded the Mr. JROTC award in his senior year.
Hicks wanted a military career from a young age and enlisted in the Army six months after graduating from high school.
Darrion Hicks is part of a storied history. ... Everyone was proud of him, said Anthony Tata, superintendent of Wake County Public School System and an Army veteran. His fellow students and cadets knew they could trust him he will be remembered as a hero at Broughton.
For his service as a specialist, Hicks was posthumously promoted to the rank of corporal; he also was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. At his interment at the Raleigh National Cemetery, Hicks was honored with a 21-gun salute.
His life affects all our lives. What affects one directly affects all of us indirectly, the Rev. Marion Robinson of St. Matthews African Methodist Episcopal Church said in his eulogy. Even though this young man was called home early, his living was not in vain. He died doing something that he loved.
Hicks is survived by his parents, Tracy Hicks and Paul Hocutt Jr., stepparents, five brothers and three sisters.