What Ever Happened to Rocky Sickmann?
He lives in St. Louis County, but let's begin where it all started at the house where Sickmann grew up.
"I had to get up for mass at 5:00 a.m. and my parents would say, 'One day, Rocky, you're going to wish God were with you,'" Sickmann said. "Same thing with my kids. They say, 'Why do we have to go to church?' and I say, 'Someday, when your kids beg you to go to school for show and tell, hey dad, can you talk to my school because it's in the history books, because you're famous.'"
He's one of the guys on the front cover of Life magazine.
"I get these messages from the man upstairs. I can be having a bad day. I'm hitting the steering wheel and all of a sudden I look at the clock and it's 4:44," Sickmann admitted. "And then I say, 'God, this is nothing compared to what it was like.'"
For a 21 year-old Marine from Franklin County, however you pronounce Krakow, it doesn't matter. This is the hometown of Rocky Sickmann.
Almost 25 years ago, Sgt. Sickmann returned home after 444 days as an Iranian hostage in Tehran.
"I know that 25 years ago my life was completely different," Sickmann recalled. "I didn't know if I'd see the light of day."
Sickmann returned as a hero, but he could have come back in a body bag.
"That morning, I had my finger on the trigger and I wonder what would have happened," he remembered. "Twenty-five years later, I wonder what would have happened if I had shot?"
Instead, radical Iranians captured Rocky and more than 50 other Americans . But, some might ask if the U.S. government had fought back, would that have eliminated the current war in the Gulf. Sickmann said the war on terrorism began on Nov. 4, 1979, and Iran's fingerprints are all over terrorism.
Finally, on Jan. 20, 1981, minutes after Ronald Reagan took the oath of office as president, Iran freed the American hostages after the U.S. released $8 billion in Iranian assets. And that takes us back to Krakow, where it all started, and the day Sickmann joined the Marines.
"My dad said, 'Son, do you really know what you're getting into?' and I said, 'Sure dad, I'll be fine.' He was teary-eyed, and I thought, 'What the heck does he know that I don't?'"
For the past 24 years Sickmann has been selling beer as director of military sales for Anheuser-Busch. He has a wife, three kids, three dogs, one cat and a lizard.