Former Iran Hostage Marine Sergeant Rodney "Rocky" Sickmann makes an impression at Lincoln-Way Central
Monday, October 24, 2016

On Monday, October 17, 2016, former Iran Hostage Marine Sgt. Rodney “Rocky” Sickmann spoke at Lincoln-Way Central. Students listened to his presentation in the fine arts auditorium.

Sickmann discussed his life before, during and after the Iran Hostage Crisis. Sickmann grew up Krakow, Missouri. Upon graduating, he joined the Marine Corps. In November of 1979, while Sickmann was on guard duty at the U.S. embassy in Tehran, an Iranian mob stormed the embassy and captured the Americans.

Student Liam Meagher says, “He’s pretty optimistic for what he’s gone through…He made us think about everything that we take for granted, like coming to such a nice school and having the opportunities to have him come out and speak.”

Sickmann was one of 52 Americans held hostage in Iran for 444 days. He discussed the hardships of being in solitary confinement, being handcuffed, being blindfolded, and not being allowed outside. “It got to the point where you didn’t want to live anymore,” he said.

During one rescue attempt, eight U.S. servicemen were killed. “Those people that lost their life will never have this,” said Sickmann, pointing to a personal family wedding photo that projected onto the auditorium screen. “But they lost their lives so that I could.”

Student Bethany Kratochvil says, “He’s sharing his story so that we have awareness for what happens outside of Lincoln-Way. I think we’re lucky that we’re able to have people like that come and talk to us about things outside of our realm of thinking.”

Sickmann wore a camouflage print jacket that displayed the words “FREEDOM ISN’T FREE” as he presented: a sentiment that students clearly received. “If you learn anything from today, learn this: Freedom is not free,” he said.

Student Jack Grove says, “It definitely makes your realize what goes on outside of these walls in New Lenox, and outside of Illinois. It’s a topic that schools don’t touch upon often, but I think it should be brought up more.” Grove continues, “It makes you realize that people lose their lives every day and you don’t really go through the day thinking about that at all. It really reiterated that there are people fighting for people back home. It’s something special and it takes a lot of courage.”