Fort Jackson: A common thread between Army veterans and father-son duo

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Updated: Nov. 10, 2023 at 7:30 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - It’s not uncommon to see military service run generation to generation. For one father and son duo who both served in the U.S. Army, Fort Jackson deepens the bond between them.

“My dad as a retired Army chaplain. He did ... a little over 22 years maybe,” Col. Timothy Hickman said. “He began his career at Fort Jackson.”

Timothy Hickman is the Garrison Commander at Fort Jackson, having taken command just a few months ago.

Like many people who join the military, he grew up a “military brat.” His family followed his father around the country and to Germany during his career as an Army chaplain.

“Tim has always wanted to be a military officer,” Retired Maj. John Hickman said. “At his promotion ceremony to Colonel, I had kind of an interesting picture that I showed to a few people. Tim was in a ... bathtub as a little boy, and he’s wearing an army helmet with a Master Sgt. rank on the helmet. That was a picture of him at Fort Meade. He’s in a set of BDUs (Battle Dress Uniform) and standing beside me.”

Being at Fort Jackson is a full circle moment for this pair. His dad started his career with the Army by attending basic training at the same installation where his son is currently in command.

“I had my training on Sand Hill, in barracks that are no longer standing,” John Hickman said. “It was quite an experience. I had never fired a rifle before, although I ended up being a sharpshooter. I’m not sure exactly how that happened, but it did.”

The common thread of the Army binding them together allows for conversations they might not be able to have otherwise.

“He’s always been a sounding board,” said Timothy Hickman. “Before my deployment to Afghanistan, we had talked to the kids on the phone ... then he and I had a separate conversation afterwards.”

Timothy Hickman told WIS News 10 those conversations — which he recalled had an “unspoken level of understanding” — consisted of letting his dad know where he could reach him and where his file boxes were.

John Hickman also successfully instilled the importance of his family into his son, who is now following in his footsteps in finding that balance between work and his own family.

“It’s interesting, when you get into this point of the career,” said Timothy Hickman. “Your family timeline, to back to my dad. He made some hard choices in his career so that my brother and I didn’t need to move in high school and we were set up for college. I’m very much in that same phase of life right now with my kids.”

“My advice was when the boys are at home, to engage with the family, spend quality time with the kids, play with the kids, help them with the homework, help them to try to be as integrated in the family as it’s possible,” John Hickman said. “And try not to sweat the small stuff.”

The military service in Timothy Hickman’s family doesn’t stop at him and his dad.

His brother and two uncles also served.

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