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Jimmie Hicks

1323rd Engineer General Service Regiment

Corporal, U.S. Army

Entered the Service from:

Georgia

Died:

9/6/1944

Grave Location:

Plot B, Row 9, Grave 18

Red Ball Express highway.

Cpl. Jimmie Hicks, from Muscogee, Ga., was an African-American soldier in the 1323rdEngineer General Service Regiment, an all-black unit, during World War II. The 1323rdarrived in England on April 3, 1944 where they formed seven truck companies within their organization.

A convoy of the Red Ball Express in 1944.
In France, trucks move past a regulating point on the Red Ball Express in 1944.

After the Normandy landings on D-Day and the breakout in Operation Cobra, Gen. George S. Patton’s 3rdArmy raced across France towards the German border. By August, Patton had stretched his supply line to near-collapse. Troops were running low on fuel, ammunition and food, so the Army Transportation Corps created a huge trucking operation called the "Red Ball Express" on August 21, named after the red balls that marked the route across Europe. Seventy five percent of the operation consisted of African-American drivers.

Red Ball Express troops stack 'jerry cans' used to transport gas to front-line units.

Hicks landed in Normandy on July 7. In August, Hicks and his regiment became part of the “Red Ball Express.”  The supply trucks started rolling on August 25 and continued for 82 days. On an average day, 900 fully loaded vehicles were on the Red Ball route round-the-clock with drivers officially ordered to observe 60-yard intervals and a top speed of 25 miles per hour. It was hard to see at night and the drivers had to go slowly using “cat eyes” – headlight covers that reduced light to a dim beam on the highway. Hicks died at the age of 22 on September 6, 1944 en route, but his regiment continued their mission and entered Germany in 1945.

Jimmie Hicks is buried in Normandy American Cemetery Plot B, Row 9, Grave 18.