Vet served in WWII and Korean War
Editor’s note: This is the latest in an ongoing series of articles profiling those who have ever served in the U.S. military, be it overseas or stateside. Every Thursday, a new profile will be published in the T-R.
Dale F. Hicks, 89, spent nearly 30 years in the U.S. Navy, first stationed in China during World War II, the Philippines during peace time, the United States and Greenland during the Korean War, and later, two decades in the U.S. Navy Reserve. He served on a total of 12 different ships.
A native of Marshalltown, upon completing high school in 1945, he immediately signed up for military service, eager to help replace the men who were starting to return home from Europe and the Pacific.
“I was not drafted, I signed up. I always wanted to join the Navy,” he said. “However, I had to wait a little while, because they didn’t need us right away.”
After completing basic training, the young man was then sent to Tsingtao (Qingdao), located on the east coast of China, assigned to the U.S.S. YW-105 as a Petty Officer First Class. The ship held fresh water that was then delivered to other larger vessels. He served as a Machinist Mate, operating and maintaining the ship’s steam turbines and reduction gears.
“We were the guys that made the ship run,” Hicks noted.
Spending countless hours in the engine room led to hearing loss.
He got to return to the States for a short leave, then spent about a year stationed in the Philippines, assigned to a powerhouse on Naval Station Sangley Point. He was discharged from the Navy in August 1949, and moved back to Marshalltown. Seven months later, he secured employment at Emerson-Fisher Controls as a machinist. But then Hicks found himself being recalled for military service.
“I got a letter — come back to the Navy,” he said. “It didn’t bother me a bit.”
Hicks was never sent to Korea and ended up stationed in Norfolk, Virginia. One of the highlights of this experience was making the four-month long journey to Thule Air Base in Greenland, on a supply ship. By 1952, he was back working at his job in Marshalltown. Fourteen years went by when Hicks got the urge to enlist in the Navy Reserve.
“I found out what a good deal it was,” he recalled. “I had a chance to travel, get more training, and I got a paycheck every month and retirement benefits.”
Being in the Reserve required Hicks to spend one weekend a month training at the U.S. Navy Reserve in Des Moines, as well as two weeks per year training at naval stations all over the globe.
He received the following medals: WWII Victory, Navy Occupation, China Service, National Defense Service, American Defense, Asiatic-Pacific, American Campaign WWII, Korean Service, United Nations Korean Service, Armed Forces Reserve, Navy Reserve Meritorious, Expert Rifleman, Navy Good Conduct, U.S. Navy Commemorative and Honorable Discharge Commemorative.
In 1970, he married his wife Marilyn, and became a father to her four sons from a previous marriage. Together they had one son, David, who serves as director of Youth and Shelter Services (YSS) in Marshalltown.
Hicks retired from the Navy in 1988, and then from Emerson-Fisher Controls in 1991. In his down time, he enjoys going fishing. The veteran is a member of the Marshalltown Combined Honor Guard, the Iowa Korean War Veterans Association and the Naval Enlisted Reserve Association. He recent years, he received a Quilt of Valor, presented by the Central Iowa Quilt Sew-ciety. He also got to go on an Honor Flight.
“I always liked the Navy. I would go back again if I could. It was always good to me, and is still good to us. When I see an American flag, to me that’s freedom,” he said.
Do you know a military veteran who should be profiled? Send your suggestions to Editor Jeff Hutton at: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact American Legion Post 46 Commander Randy Kessler at: email@example.com