Memorial Day is a day of remembrance to all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country. And though the nationally-observed holiday originally honored those that died in combat during the Civil War, the honor has extended to all who died in military service to the United States Armed Forces.
That being said, because George Hickman was fortunate enough to have survived World War II, he is not typically one of those we’re “supposed” to remember on Memorial Day. His passing came many years after his military service as a pioneer in the all-black 99th Air Squadron of the Tuskegee Airmen. It came whilst under the employ of the 12th Man and the Seattle Seahawks. And this is why my thoughts are drawn to this unassuming war hero on this Memorial Day – a serviceman who was with us just a year ago.
Hickman came to us at the Seattle Seahawks, as he did with the University of Washington, as a game day usher four decades ago while we were but an infant franchise at the Kingdome. He stood his post at the entrance of our press box where he greeted visitors and staff up until his passing on August 20, 2012. His final game with the Seahawks saw the return of Matt Hasselbeck when we hosted the Titans in the first preseason game of 2012 on August 11.
Emily Heffter of the Seattle Times gave this obituary in his memory.
His photo still hangs framed on the press box wall near the entrance to the office many of us call our Sunday home. If you ever find yourself in the Gary Wright Press Box, don’t forget to say hello on your way in – just like Hickman did, with a humble smile and a firm-but-kind handshake, every football game day.
Back on November 13, 2011, Hickman raised the 12th Man Flag at CenturyLink Field before the Military Appreciation game against the Ravens. In his interview, he described the experience as “heaven on earth.” Today, it is us on earth raising a flag for you in heaven, George. Along with countless others who served our country and are no longer with us – today is your Memorial Day.