A homecoming to remember

April 02, 2002|By STEFANIE GREENBERG, Staff Writer

For Deborah Schreck, Friday morning was much more exciting than most. Her son was coming home from a long deployment at sea.

Twenty-one-year-old Jason Hickingbottom of El Centro, son of Deborah and Arthur Schreck of Brawley, recently finished 159 days without being in port aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

"We ended up celebrating his birthday and Christmas all in a half hour," said Deborah Schreck.

Hickingbottom was called back to duty 45 minutes after the last plane went down during the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. He was on leave from his home port of Norfolk, Va., visiting his parents.

"My heart just sank," said Schreck.

Unable to get a plane flight to Virginia, Amtrak took Hickingbottom to his ship for free.

The aviation ordnanceman said he long knew he wanted to join the military.

"It was something I had wanted to do since I was a freshman in high school," Hickingbottom said.


And his family is no stranger to military service. Schreck said her son joins two uncles, a cousin and a grandfather and great-grandfather, both of whom served in World War II (in different branches). She even has a "wall of heroes" in her home that commemorates family members.

Hickingbottom said he plans on re-enlisting at least one more time. He plans on attending an aviation ordnanceman school soon in Pensacola, Fla. He is a Valley native and graduated from Brawley Union High School in 1998. His wife is Mary Hickingbottom of El Centro.

"I'm just extremely proud of him," said Schreck.

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