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Army Capt. Douglas Linn Hickok, a drilling Guardsman and physician assistant with 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, a drilling Guardsman and physician assistant with 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. (Facebook)

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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.”

thayer.rose@stripes.com Twitter: @Rose_Lori

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Rose L. Thayer is based in Austin, Texas, and she has been covering the western region of the continental U.S. for Stars and Stripes since 2018. Before that she was a reporter for Killeen Daily Herald and a freelance journalist for publications including The Alcalde, Texas Highways and the Austin American-Statesman. She is the spouse of an Army veteran and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism. Her awards include a 2021 Society of Professional Journalists Washington Dateline Award and an Honorable Mention from the Military Reporters and Editors Association for her coverage of crime at Fort Hood.
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