John Lloyd Hicks, age 89, was born in 1924, in Camden, N.J., to John and Sadie Hicks. John passed away at his residence in Mary Esther, Fla., on March 4, after a long battle with cancer. His great passions in life were his wife, Constance, family, flying, and Indy car racing.
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Retired Lt. Col. John Hicks served his country for 33 years as a pilot in the United States Air Force (USAF). His service included duty during WWII, Korean, and Vietnam Wars. His childhood passion for flight led to volunteering for Aviation Cadets during WWII. He completed pilot training and was assigned duty in B-25s. He left the Army Air Corps after WWII but returned to Air Force service shortly before the Korean War. John had a wide variety of assignments including Air Training Command Instructor/Stan Eval, Strategic Air Command Air Refueling Aircraft Commander, Air Attaché Bangkok Thailand, duty at Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Base during the Vietnam War and ended his career at Hurlburt Field AFB in 1978.
After his retirement, his love of flight was still strong. So, John built and flew two experimental aircraft. He continued to fly until his 80th birthday. When he could no longer fly himself, he returned to a lifelong involvement in radio controlled model aircraft flying. He attended the Indy 500 every year from 1964 thru 2003. A tradition he did with his sons and carried on with his grandchildren. He lived a full and wonderful life. He will be missed.
John was preceded in death by his loving wife of 66 years, Constance, and their grandson, David.
He is survived by their three sons, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
The family has been privileged to have the love and concern of John's caregiver, Rebekah Hagler. Without her, his wishes to stay at home during his illness would not have been possible. The family also wishes to thank the nurses (Gail and Mitzi) and the rest of the staff of Hospice, who have been helping for the past couple of months.
John's earthly remains will be cremated according to his wishes. The family will have a private ceremony at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Wounded Warriors Project.
Published Online in Northwest Florida Daily News on Mar. 12, 2014