First U.S. service member to die of COVID-19 had ties to Utah, family says

(Photo courtesy of Shandrea Hickok) Captain Douglas Hickok was the first U.S. service member to die after testing positive for COVID-19.

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The first U.S. service member to die after testing positive for COVID-19 loved visiting Utah, a relative said.

Capt. Douglas Hickok was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and attended Brigham Young University for a semester. When his daughter, Shandrea Hickok, graduated from Utah State University last year, he flew to the Beehive State and helped her move across the country to New Jersey.

“He was just really loving and caring with trying to help me and be there for me,” Shandrea Hickok, 26, said.

Douglas Hickok, 57, died Saturday at a Pennsylvania hospital. He served in the New Jersey National Guard medical unit and was a third generation service member, his family said.

Hickok remained humorous and enjoyed puns “until the end,” Shandrea Hickok said. When he was tested for COVID-19, Hickok told his daughter, “Well, if it clucks like a chicken, then it’s a chicken.” He had been hospitalized since March 21, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Defense.

Douglas Hickok was born in Oklahoma, raised in California and lived in many states throughout his life, most recently in Pennsylvania. He also served a two-year mission with the church in Spain.

“He was super adventurous. He loved to explore and travel a lot,” Shandrea Hickok said.

Douglas Hickok did not live in Utah after attending BYU, but the Beehive State “was a big part” of his life, his daughter said. They have relatives who live in Utah, and Shandrea Hickok said her father “visited me a lot” while she attended USU from 2013 to 2019.

Douglas Hickok had a passion for outdoor recreation, his family said. Both of his parents were Scout Masters, and he became an Eagle Scout when he was 16.

“He would come to Park City to ski every winter, and it was like his second home with coming and visiting me and going hiking,” Shandrea Hickok said.

Douglas Hickok graduated from Cornell Medical School in New York City with a physician assistant medical degree with a specialty in orthopedic surgery, according to his family. In addition to his service with the National Guard, he worked as a civilian physician assistant at Andrew’s Air Force Base and as an orthopedic physician assistant at a Pennsylvania clinic.

Hickok was “extremely patriotic” and “was active in his civic duties,” according to his obituary. He “fought very hard not only to help protect his fellow soldiers, but his family” and “was loyal to his God, faith and country.”

He is survived by his two children, Shandrea Hickok and Noah Hickok; first wife, Barbara Hickok; father, Major Robert L. Hickok; a sister, two brothers and 15 nieces and nephews, according to his obituary.