In this episode of Diesel Stories, Jacob and Chris spoke to Rocky Sickmann, Senior VP of Budweiser Accounts at Folds of Honor. Rocky has an incredible story: he was one of those captured in the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, spending 444 days in captivity. That time spent as a hostage, along with his eventual rescue, helped guide him to the position he holds today.
His story begins in St. Louis, though he moved out to the country when he was young—to a town of about 50, “dogs and cats included.” While growing up, his parents taught him three things: love of family, love of faith, and love of country. Those three things, he says, stuck with him through his darkest days.
Eager to see the world and serve his country, he joined the Marines right out of high school. He did indeed see the world, and was eventually posted at the U.S. Embassy in Iran. He was there when the embassy was taken, and shares some details of his treatment and the isolation, fear, and uncertainty experienced by all the captives.
Something that has stuck with Rocky is the failed rescue attempt on April 24, 1980, which cost the lives of eight service members. “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about those eight individuals,” he says, “and the others who had the guts to try.”
Even after he was rescued, he continued to think about those men; it’s a big part of what drew him to Folds of Honor. “I have a family,” he says, explaining why it still hits hard. “Their families had to start all over, without their loved one.”
During the podcast, he shares honest, often harrowing details about his time as a hostage, including:
- How seven marines held the American embassy for four hours
- His experience in captivity
- What it was like to leave his prison and sit on the airplane that would bring him home
- How his son landed a role in the movie Argo, and what visiting the set was like
- How Lieutenant Commander Dan Rooney pitched Folds of Honor to Rocky while he worked at Budweiser
There are times when this episode veers into rougher territory than usual. We encourage you to listen to it anyway; Rocky’s story, his faith, and his love for his country are well worth remembering as we head into the holiday season. If you’re as moved as we were, we hope you’ll make a donation to Folds of Honor to help give the families of injured and fallen service members the means to start again.