Preston E. Hicks, age 75, of Mableton, GA, formerly of Jonesboro, passed away April 15, 2020, from complications related to Agent Orange exposure incurred while he served with HMM-265 in Vietnam 1969-70. During his years of active duty he served with HMM-164, 165, 261, 264, 265, and 365.
Preston was commissioned in June of 1967 and shortly after was sent to flight school in Pensacola, FL. By 1969, he was stationed at New River and trained on the CH-46. Once his training was completed, he was sent to Vietnam to join HMM-265, which was already there. He was stationed at Phu Bai and aboard the USS Iwo Jima. When HMM-265 returned home, Preston was transferred to HMM-165 on Okinawa and aboard the USS Tripoli.
Upon completion of his tour of duty in 1970, Preston received orders for Iwakuni, Japan. During his three years there, he became Base Search and Rescue Officer and Base Personnel Officer. He also enjoyed the privilege of flying the last H-34 in service in the Far East while transporting one of the Moon Rocks around Japan.
In 1973, Preston’s next orders took him back to New River (and Maintenance School in Memphis, TN). He became the Squadron Maintenance Officer. In 1976, his squadron was deployed to Okinawa, Japan. After that, Preston was assigned to the USMC Fourth Reserve Air Wing in New Orleans, Louisiana. He remained there until he resigned his commission in 1979.
After the Marine Corps, Preston worked with the National Transportation Safety Board as an aircraft accident investigator in the Atlanta office. He also continued to fly by joining the Georgia Army National Guard. During his career with the NTSB, he was the Aviation Supervisor in Atlanta and the head of the Regional Office in Los Angeles. As head of the Regional Office in Los Angeles, Preston led annual safety training at LAX. When 9/11 occurred, Preston had very recently completed this training and helped LAX to consolidate their actions to assist and accommodate waiting families in the event that a flight or flights would not arrive. Preston retired from the NTSB in 2002 with over 35 years of distinguished government service.
In 2006 Preston completed the Master of Divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He had been serving as a bible teacher since he and Joan were married in 1967, a Deacon since 1988, and was ordained and licensed to the Gospel ministry in 2004. . Throughout his life and wherever he was stationed, Preston was active in his local church serving as Bible Study teacher, deacon and choir member. In his later years, he especially enjoyed teaching seminary level classes through his local church.
Preston was preceded in death by his parents, Elbert E. and Virginia Hicks. He is survived by his wife, Joan Woodward Hicks; daughter Valorie McDonald and husband Christopher of Mableton; and granddaughters Samantha and Emily McDonald. A Celebration of Life Service will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to: First Baptist Church Marietta-Grateful First Campaign, 148 Church Street, Marietta, GA 30060, or First Baptist Church Jonesboro- Missions Fund, P. O. Box 773, Jonesboro, GA 30237, in Memory of Preston E. Hicks.
[Adapted from Ford Stewart Funeral Home obituary and supplemented by information from Joan Hicks.]
Note from Webmaster. When the date of Preston’s Celebration of Life service is known it will be posted on this website. As always, logged-in members may put a public comment at the end of this post. If you would like to send a private message to the family you may do so via the Webmaster.