Rocky Sickmann grew up in a rural area near Union, Mo., just west of St. Louis. He signed up to be a Marine without his parents’ knowledge. He wanted to see the world and become a Marine Security Guard. At 22 years of age, his first assignment in October of 1979 was at the embassy in Iran.
Each day it seemed more people were coming to the embassy to protest the United States’ roll in Iran. On the morning of Nov. 4, 1979, Rocky had just gotten off duty and was walking to the motor pool gate.
Rocky ran for the front door of the embassy where he saw one of the other Marine security guards preparing to lock the doors to protect the people, property and documents inside.
The Iranian army had provided security outside the walls in prior days, but on Nov. 4, they simply melted into the crowd allowing the surge of people to scale the walls. Rocky and some others eventually barricaded themselves at the top of the building, but when other U.S. personnel had been captured and their lives threatened, Rocky and the other guards were given the command to open the door.
Looking back to 1979, Rocky says his instincts as a Marine made him want to fire his weapon, yet he obeyed his orders. If he had pulled that trigger, world history might be far different today.
52 hostages were held in Iran for 444 days. On April 24, 1980, the U.S. initiated Operation Eagle Claw, a helicopter mission to rescue the hostages. The maneuver failed in the Iranian desert and eight servicemen were killed. When Rocky learned of the operation after his release he vowed to help families who lost servicemen and women. He today works with the organization Folds of Honor to help in that mission.
The Ideals of the American flag are just some of the reasons Rocky Sickmann became a Marine in the first place. It’s those same ideals—memories of family, faith in God that kept hinging for those 444 days in captivity. And yet today, it’s those same ideals that he shares with Americans with the Folds of Honor program.
Watch Andrew McCrea's full interview with Rocky Sickmann and other American Countryside features on the Farm Journal TV app here.