Unselfish acts. Pride. Service to humankind.
These are just a scattering of what two Lee’s Summit firefighters exhibit daily as they serve overseas. Ben Hicks joined the fire department in 2004 as a specialist/paramedic.
“My friend, Wes Blanscet, who is here with me, actually works in the same fire company (crew) as I do, so we work very closely together,” Hicks says. “Between the seven stations the department has, I have worked at all of them, most recently Station 5 off 150 Highway.”
He grew up in Lee’s Summit, where his dad was an assistant chief at the fire department until he was 7 years old, then moved to Johnson County where he graduated in 1998 from Shawnee Mission Northwest High School. He graduated from Park University with a degree in public administration.
When not overseas, he lives in Lee’s Summit with his wife, Heidi, and three children, Henry, age 4; Isabelle, age 8; and Amelia, age 11.
“I have been an infantry officer in the Army, Missouri National Guard since 2011. Prior to this, I enlisted active duty in the Navy from 1998 to 2003 as a hospital corpsman, combat medic, assigned to the 1st Marine Division in Southern California,” he says. “My wife and I loved living in San Diego, by the way! During my service there, I did two deployments to Okinawa/South Pacific with the 31st MEU and then deployed a third time to Iraq during the invasion. My unit, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, was one of the first to cross into Iraq during the ground war. This current deployment to the Middle East now makes it my fourth one. I additionally served two years in the Navy Reserve prior to coming into the National Guard.”
Hicks decided to become a firefighter after growing up in the fire service. His father was a retired fire chief. He found a real love for emergency medicine during his work in the Navy as a corpsman.
“The medical experience and education I received on active duty transitioned well into being a paramedic,” he says. “Becoming a firefighter was also a good fit after active duty because the fire service environment closely resembles the military. Working with others in a hectic/ dangerous environment breeds a close-knit brotherhood/sisterhood that I enjoy being a part of.”
Joining the military was somewhat of a natural transition for him, as he had a strong desire to do something exciting and be a part of something bigger than himself, gain education and life experience. He has strong pride in both his community and country and wants to give back to it.
“After I was out of the service, while feeling very satisfied with my career as a firefighter, there were still many aspects I missed from the military,” he says. “I commissioned as an infantry officer not only to serve again but to grow myself as a leader as well. I feel like I want to make a difference. If that means being there to help somebody when they are having the worst day of their lives as a firefighter, or being there as a leader to take care of those trusted to my care.”
That dedication to serve extends to his community through being on the fire truck or ambulance, serving those assigned to him or serving our country, doing a job only 2 percent of the population has done. He admits that most of the time it is not glamorous, but the ability to serve people is very self-fulfilling.
“I truly enjoy living in Lee’s Summit while simultaneously serving its citizens. I feel blessed to be raising my family there, sending my kids to school there, and supporting my wife, who starting this next school year, will be a teacher with the Lee’s Summit School District,” he says. “Being a part of the community, and, in turn, the support my family gets from the community in my absence, is something I don’t take for granted.”
Words to live by, for all of us, as we celebrate the Fourth of July.