New Jersey National Guard member is first coronavirus death in the military
By ROSE L. THAYER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 30, 2020
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A member of the New Jersey National Guard died Saturday after a weeklong battle with the coronavirus, service officials announced Monday. He is the first service member to die from the virus.
Army Capt. Douglas Linn Hickok was a drilling Guardsman and physician assistant originally from Jackson, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday in a news conference. Though Hickok was a member of the New Jersey National Guard, the father of two resided in Pennsylvania and died at a hospital in that state, Murphy said.
"Today is a sad day for the Department of Defense as we have lost our first American service member — active, Reserve or Guard — to coronavirus," Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a statement. "This is a stinging loss for our military community, and our condolences go out to his family, friends, civilian co-workers and the entire National Guard community. The news of this loss strengthens our resolve to work ever more closely with our interagency partners to stop the spread of [coronavirus]."
Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau, expressed his condolences to Hickok’s family in a statement.
“All of us in the National Guard are grateful for his service to our nation, as a citizen and as a soldier,” he said. “All of us are likely to know people directly affected by this virus in the coming weeks. As our nation fights its greatest challenge in recent memory, we are all going to need draw on our inner strength and resilience to win this war and comfort those in pain. We will prevail — and we each must bring our best selves to the task every day to overcome this as fast as possible for our great country.
Information provided from the Defense Department and the governor did not state Hickok’s age or whether he was activated with the National Guard at the time he contracted the virus.
In a call with Hickok’s wife, Murphy said she asked him to “make the point when we say stay at home, we mean stay at home.”