The Pentagon on Monday announced the first American service member to succumb to coronavirus — a member of the New Jersey Army National Guard.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy identified him as Capt. Douglas Linn Hickok.
“I’m heartbroken by the loss of @NJNationalGuard Captain Douglas Linn Hickok to coronavirus. He was a drilling guardsman and physician’s assistant, originally from Jackson,” he said. “Our thoughts are with his wife, children, and their family.”
I’m heartbroken by the loss of @NJNationalGuard Captain Douglas Linn Hickok to coronavirus.
He was a drilling guardsman and physician’s assistant, originally from Jackson.
Our thoughts are with his wife, children, and their family.
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) March 30, 2020
Hickok passed away on Saturday after testing positive for COVID-19, according to the Pentagon. He had been hospitalized since March 21.
“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,” said Defense Secretary Mark Esper. He added:
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 COVID-19.
National Guard Bureau Chief Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel said in a statement:
I am deeply saddened by the COVID-19-related death of Army Capt. Douglas Linn Hickok, a physician assistant & New Jersey National Guardsman. All of us in the #NationalGuard are grateful for his service to our nation, as a Citizen & as a Soldier.
Our thoughts are with his family & friends. 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’re all going to need to draw on our inner strength & resilience to win this war & comfort those in pain. We must bring our best selves every day to overcome this as fast as possible for our great country.
It was not clear if Hickok contracted COVID-19 while activated as a member of the National Guard. More than 16,000 members of the National Guard have been activated by state governors to aid in the response to the coronavirus pandemic spreading across the nation.
Hickok’s sister Mary posted on social media that her brother was 57 years old and spent his life saving lives as a civilian and an Army captain.
“Doug was fearless & kept serving his patients even at the risk of getting sick! God bless him & you all!!!” she wrote.
Hickok had other health-related issues and believed he contracted COVID-19 from a patient, according to family members and friends.
“I am grateful for the chance that I had to get to know Doug, and while I don’t understand why some people are taken early from this earth, I am confident that he is going to a better place where he can rest from the pain and discomfort that he has had for so long with his health issues,” the bishop of his church wrote on Facebook.