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Carlos Hickman '59 February 14, 2024 3:26 PM updated: February 14, 2024 3:52 PM

Carlos Wayne Hickman 

February 11, 1937 - July 2023 

Carlos Wayne Hickman, Class of 1959, Colonel (US Army Retired), 86, of Carrollton, Texas, passed away July 2023.

He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Mary Frances; 3 daughters; Carla Massee, Debbie Olmos, and Ann Marie Montgomery (Class of 1990); 8 grandchildren; Michael Massee (Class of 2012) , Joshua Massee and Mara Massee, Captain Emily Olmos (Class of 2017) and Captain Molly Olmos, USAF, Ally, Grace, and Ella Montgomery; and 1 great-grandson, Luca Massee.

Carlos was born in 1937 in Texas and was raised in Childress, Cisco, and in Wichita Falls. He combined his vivid memories of WWII with his early passion to ‘make things’ and attended the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (Texas A&M University), studying mechanical engineering. He graduated in 1959 then commissioned into the US Army as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers.

Over his Army career, he had multiple overseas deployments to Guam, Okinawa, Korea, Germany (twice) including a combat tour of Vietnam. As a member of MAC-V (Military Assistance Command – Vietnam), he served as an advisor with an ARVN (Army of Vietnam) Construction Battalion where he spent his tour rebuilding bridges destroyed by the Viet Cong. He often stated he got “damn good” at building bridges since he rebuilt the same bridges multiple times. He even pioneered the use of Heavy Lift Sikorsky “Sky Cranes” to quickly assemble bridge spans to reduce his unit’s exposure to enemy direct fire. As it turned out, the most challenging part of his job was his Anti Venereal Disease Campaign to keep his merry band of troops from contracting VD from their local “girlfriends”.

Carlos continued his ambition to make things. He got a little more than he bargained for when at his first assignment to Ft. Leavenworth, KS, he was tasked to build their electric chair. He was quite relieved that he was never asked to throw the switch on “Old Sparky”. The chair, which was never used, is now on display in the Military Police Museum in Missouri. In his spare time, he completely restored a Model-T Ford, from the wheels up. It was always the first item on and off the moving van (regardless of state of disrepair) during each change of duty station. He also built multiple operational, scale steam locomotives, bulldozers, cranes, boats, and engines that later won multiple Awards and Blue Ribbons at the Texas State Fair. The most ill-advised project that he undertook was the pipe organ he built in the family room of their Chicago house. Surprisingly, on this one, it didn’t occur to him that it would be too big to get out of the door when it came time to move.

During his first assignment to Ft. Leavenworth, calm, laidback Carlos with a dry sly sense of humor met his polar opposite in a young, fiery Army Nurse from West (‘by God’) Virginia named Mary Frances. After a whirlwind romance, they were married and raised three beautiful daughters Carla, Debbie, and Annie. Considering he only grew up with one brother, raising three daughters, all with very different personalities could be a challenge at times. Considering how mechanical Carlos was, and much to his consternation, none of his girls could adequately maintain a car to save their lives. There was always a mandatory inspection during every trip home. Sadly, no grades above a C- where ever given. Always one to look at the positive side, he developed a stand-up routine about the girls and their cars that he loved to occasionally take out on the road, always getting rave reviews.

The family traveled the globe, to assignments in Fort Belvoir, VA; Walla Walla, WA; Fort Leavenworth, KS; Bitburg and Stuttgart, Germany; Sacramento, CA; Fort Leonard Wood, MO; Chicago, IL; Washington, DC; and finally, Dallas, TX. In 1988, Carlos retired from the Army after a distinguished 28-year career, highlighted by commanding at all levels from platoon to brigade and the prestigious engineering region of DC, earning numerous awards and decorations, including the Legion of Merit w/Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal w/6 Oak Leaf Clusters, Vietnam Service Medal w/2 Bronze Service Stars, Vietnam Campaign Medal, and the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry w/Palm.

After his Army retirement, he remained living in Carrollton. Professionally, he went on a “practice interview” for a civilian job and ended up hired as the Facilities Engineer for the E-Systems' (later Raytheon) Top Secret aerospace support facility in Greenville, TX. He advanced to Vice President of Facilities and retired a second and last time in 1999.

After retirement, he and Mary Frances travelled extensively on cruises and trips to see their daughters and their families. Not surprisingly, to keep himself busy/entertained and out of Mary Frances’ hair, he built himself a state of the art work shop in the backyard, then spent many happy hours creating incredible heirlooms for his grandchildren and other quirky projects that interested only him. Mary Frances lived in fear of him staggering out of the work shop missing an arm or at the very least a couple of fingers while operating all his machinery. To be fair, there were a couple trips to the ER but the injuries were minor. He will be remembered for his quiet support, endless patience, and humorous anecdotes, particularly about the girls’ growing up.


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