Friday, June 5, 2015

Friday's Faces From the Past: Fred Pape, Jim Bayes, and Forrest Hicks, April 1952

Cropped from the Ellington Air Force Base Class 52-05 Navigator graduation photo, April 1952, from left:  my dad, Fred Pape; Jim Bayes; and Forrest L. Hicks.

On February 7, 2015,Dad told me a little more about Forrest Hicks.  They called him "Hicks," and he (along with Dad and Jim) washed out of pilot school (at Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi).  While waiting to get into a navigator class at Ellington, Dad roomed with Hicks in the top floor of the barracks.  It was very hot up there, but they had a window, and air from the Gulf of Mexico blew through - except for about an hour or so at night.  Dad said Forrest had a 45-rpm turntable and liked to listen to classical music, such as Scheherazade and the 1812 Overture.

After they graduated, Hicks was stationed at a base on the other side of Korea from Dad.  One day, the pilot of his plane was badly wounded by ack-ack (anti-aircraft guns), and Hicks was responsible for bringing the plane home safely.  He received the Distinguished Service Cross for doing so, an award second only to the Medal of Honor.  Here is what he did to earn it, from the citation:

...while serving Navigator of an unarmed, unescorted B-26 aircraft, 6167th Operations Squadron, FIFTH Air Force, deployed over Ullyul, North Korea on 8 December 1952. During a pass on an enemy convoy near Ullyul, the pilot* on his crew was severely wounded in the hip. After the engineer* brought the ship under control, he called upon Lieutenant Hicks to come to the aid of the semi-conscious pilot, whose senses and strength were failing. The pilot could not be treated in his position, and his chances of survival after a bail-out were negligible. Realizing this, he entreated the crew to bail out and save themselves; but Lieutenant Hicks and the engineer elected to remain with him at great risk to their lives, to give aid and to help get the aircraft back to the base. Facing the rear of the aircraft, Lieutenant Hicks pointed directions and shouted instructions to the pilot, encouraging him to follow his instructions until the field could be reached. Lieutenant Hicks' calmness during this emergency, his decision to remain in the aircraft, and his aid in monitoring the controls were largely responsible for saving the pilot and the aircraft.

Hole made by the anti-aircraft shell. (U.S. Air Force photo), credit National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
Pilot's seat immediately after the successful landing. (U.S. Air Force photo), credit National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

Forrest Llewelan Hicks was born May 17, 1926, in Los Angeles, California, the oldest of two sons of Robert Stanley Hicks and Laura Drusilla Frick.  He joined the Navy in December 1943 and served as a Seaman 2/C (second class) until 1946.  One of the last ships he served on (as of June 14 of that year) was the USS Yosemite.

Hicks then attended the University of New Mexico, and later the University of Southern California, where he was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity.  He earned a degree from the latter in August 1948, and also did some graduate work there.  He later went to work for the State of California as an engineering geologist.

On December 27, 1950, exactly seven years after he enlisted in the Navy, Hicks joined the Air Force.  At the time, he was single and his parents were living in Stillwater, Oklahoma, so that was listed as his home of record.

Hicks met Sarah "Sally" Elinor Lynch of Glendale, California, in 1955, and they married at Christmas of that year.  They had one son, and divorced in March 1961.  Sometime during the marriage, Hicks had reached the rank of captain with the Air Force and was stationed at Itazuke Air Base in Japan.  By this point, he had also earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with three clusters, the Korean Service Medal with three bronze stars, and other decorations.  He flew combat missions in T-33, C-46, and C-47 aircraft as well as the B-26.  He retired at the rank of major.

Hicks remarried in 1965 and had three more children, two boys and a girl.  By 1986 he was living in Florida.  He died March 2, 2004, and is buried at Saint Lukes Parish Episcopal Church Cemetery in
Merritt Island, Brevard County, Florida.

* The pilot was Major Lawrence E. Freligh (1918-1968).  The flight engineer was Tech. Sgt. James H. Ledford.  They also received the Distinguished Service Cross.

© Amanda Pape - 2015 - click here to e-mail me.

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