View Full Version : ‘Close-knit comradeship’

11-11-06, 08:18 AM
‘Close-knit comradeship’ - Family frets as 3 Newcomerstown brothers serve overseas as Marines
By RYAN KARP, T-R Staff Writer

NEWCOMERSTOWN – There’s three times the worry for Ron and Carrie Hickman of Newcomerstown, whose three sons enlisted in the Marines. Two are serving in war-torn Iraq and the third is on his way there.

The Hickmans said each of their sons influenced one another to serve.

Their middle son, Cody Berger, 26, signed up about a month before Sept. 11, 2001.

Their youngest son, Andy Hickman, 19, enlisted while he was a senior at Newcomerstown High and began duty when he graduated in 2005.

And their oldest son, Loren Berger, 28, recently decided he would enlist and began serving in September 2005.

“They are pretty close being in the service,” Carrie said. “A couple of their friends have been killed over there. That just really bothers them a lot. They want to be there to help them. There’s such a close-knit comradeship.”

Cody, a sergeant, previously served four years of active duty and is now in his second tour of duty.

During his first tour, he was a protective service agent and served as a bodyguard for Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, which oversees all U.S. forces in the Middle East. Currently, Cody is working in the commanding general’s office for multinational security transition command in Iraq. In an e-mail to his family, Cody wrote that soon he will be moving to convoy operations where his duties will include route reconnaissance, vehicle gunner, vehicle commander and driver.

Andy, a lance corporal, is stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., on the USS Whidbey Island. He has been to Jordan and Pakistan to train with the military and has helped evacuate American citizens from Beirut, Lebanon, during the recent Lebanon-Israeli conflict. He is expected to go to Iraq at some point during his tour.

Loren, also a lance corporal, is a bulk fuel specialist who works on a fuel farm in Iraq near the Syrian border. His job consists of receiving and issuing fuel to military and civilian ground vehicles and equipment.

“Andy is supposed to come for Christmas which is great, but Loren and Cody won’t be here,” Carrie said. “We’ll be missing them at Christmas time.”

Ron said he was never in the military and that each of the boys probably influenced one another to go.

“Cody talked about it in high school,” said Ron.

“Cody used to make Andy call him ‘Sir,’” said Carrie.

The Hickmans have three other children, Jessie Berger, 25, Derek Hickman, 21, and Ashley Hickman, 15.

“Jess worries a lot about her brothers,” said Carrie. “She talks to them a lot.”

Loren also has a 2-year-old son, Aiden.

The family mainly communicates through e-mail.

“It’s great that technology is the way it is now,” said Carrie. “I can’t imagine back in the day when you didn’t hear from them at all.”

The Hickmans said they watch the news frequently and try to keep with the major changes in Iraq.

“It’s a very dangerous place, that’s for sure,” said Carrie. “We got an e-mail from Cody one day. He said a building next door to him just got hit by a rocket. That’s kind of unnerving.”

Loren has talked about his unit helping Iraqi soldiers who were involved in a car bombing.

“It puts some stress on us,” said Carrie. “If I know they’re going to call, I want to be here. It does put a stress on us obviously as a family unit.”

Ron said the boys do have future plans that do not involve the military, but at the same time they are not sure how long they will be in Iraq.

“Six month tours of duties often turn into one year,” said Ron. “No one really knows how long they will be over there.”