Rodney “Rocky” Sickmann graduated from Washington High School in 1976 and immediately entered the U.S. Marine Corps. In 1979, just 28 days into his tour of duty with at American Embassy in Tehran, Iran, Sickmann became a player in one of the most terrifying events in U.S. history.
On November 4, 1979, after months of turmoil marked by the return of the exiled Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the American Embassy in Tehran was overrun by militants and its employees taken captive. Sergeant Rocky Sickmann, then just 22, was one of 65 Americans taken hostage. Sickmann remained a hostage for 444 days before being released on Jan. 21, 1981 following 14 months of diplomacy by President Jimmy Carter.
Three months later, Sickmann was Honorably Discharged after six years in the U.S. Marine Corps and received several accolades during his service including the Prisoner of War Medal, The Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Award of Valor, and Good Conduct Medal. Following the military, he began working in advertising for KMOX radio in St. Louis, Mo. and then entered the private sector for Anheuser-Busch InBev. He spent the next 34 years with the company, most recently as the U.S. National Director for Military and Industry Affairs, until his retirement in July 2016. Sickmann’s personal diary, “Iranian Hostage: A Personal Diary of 444 Days in Captivity” is also the only known diary to have been smuggled out of Iran and published. The diary is no longer in publication.
As the U.S. National Director for Military and Industry Affairs at Anheuser-Busch InBev, Sickmann oversaw all Military Special Events, Military and Industry Trade Media Publications, and National Industry Trade Shows. Throughout his career at Anheuser-Busch, Sickmann also played a key role in increasing Anheuser-Busch’s market penetration among the Military by training wholesalers, coordinating marketing and publicity, executing national sales promotions, and planning special military events. Sickmann helped coordinate the “Here’s to the Heroes Tour” which salutes the men and women of the armed forces, allowing Americans to show their support for the troops via recorded messages filmed on location at community events, celebrations, and festivals nationwide and shared with U.S. troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Personally and professionally, Sickmann has been fortunate to share his story on many different platforms including ABC News, ESPN, Fox & Friends, Fox News, Los Angeles Times, MSNBC, NFL Time Line Series, The New York Times, to the cast of the Oscar award-winning film Argo (starring Ben Affleck), national and local Veteran and Military organizations, and educational institutions across the country.
In August 2016, Sickmann’s military and professional experience, coupled with his passion for our armed forces, led him to pursue an opportunity with his favorite non-profit organization: Folds of Honor. In this new role, Sickmann helps advance the Folds mission: To stand in the financial gap of the more than one million dependents adversely affected by war, providing educational scholarships to the children and spouses of those killed or disabled while serving our nation.
Sickmann and his wife (36 Years), Jill, have three children, Hannah (Hannah Wehrle, Granddaughter Lela, Grandson Rhett and husband Matt Wehrle), Chelsea (Chelsea Frese, Grandson Woodson and husband Kalen Frese) and Spencer.