We've Got History
Of all the schools in San Diego County, there are few that have a history as dramatic as Hawthorne School's.
In our quiet neighborhood school at lunchtime Dec. 4, 1959, a military fighter plane on a routine flight met with trouble.
When the 21 year old pilot realized his aircraft was headed straight toward Hawthorne School and its 700 students who were out on school grounds, he made the split second decision not to eject from the disabled plane. And survive. Instead, he wrestled with the F3H Demon aircraft until he was clear of the children. But he was too close to ground to eject. He died in the crash. The school and its 700 students were unscathed.
Pilot Ensign Albert Joseph Hickman was a hero. After his death, he was awarded medals. The school district named a new elementary school in his honor, Hickman Elementary in Mira Mesa. Nearby Kearny Mesa now has Hickman Field Athletic Area. An American Legion Post was dedicated to Hickman.
Hawthorne students and their parents wrote letters to Hickman's family in Iowa thanking them for raising such a heroic son. At the school, a memorial was created in his honor.
At a ceremony at the school, Hawthorne student Kay Schade, 11, the student body president, gave a speech that was quoted in the San Diego Union:
"Ensign Hickman not only saved our lives but left us an ideal by which to live. Let us strive to be as brave and courageous ourselves as he was."