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National City students thank World War II veteran for his service

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Posted at 5:32 PM, Jul 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-04 21:14:13-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Inspiring the next generation of service members on Independence Day was Hinson Hicks. He's a 98- year-old World War II veteran.

"No place I'd rather be," said Xavier Ross, ROTC executive officer at Sweetwater High School. "He's basically a war hero."

Ross looked to Hicks for advice as he prepares to enlist in the Marine Corps or Navy.

Hicks also served in Korea and Vietnam. He enlisted twice.

The first time was in 1943 when his son said he snuck into the Marine Corps at 17 to get away from sharecropping. He had to leave when he got caught, but he re-enlisted in the Navy when he was 18.

"I did a little bit of everything. I cooked [and] I washed," said Hicks.

The military was still segregated when Hicks first enlisted and sailors of color were limited in the jobs they could do.

Ross wants to make sure he continues to be the change he wants to see after learning what service members of color went through before him.

"They've done so much for not only people of color but for all people so they have the freedoms they have today. I want to help provide the same thing for people who face discrimination around the world," said Ross.

Hicks humbly chucked when he heard the next generation looked at him like a hero.

"It wasn't as easy as you thought it was because you had to work all day and half of the night too," said Hicks.

Hicks' son tells ABC 10News his dad is also the oldest member of the American Legion Post 110.