- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 23, 2008

An FBI agent slain in a suburban Pittsburgh drug raid was on the bureau’s fast-track to success.

But family and co-workers of Special Agent Sam Hicks, a former undercover narcotics officer in Baltimore, said he would much rather talk about something only slightly older than his FBI career: his 2-year-old son, Noah.

“Sam was happy to come to work in the morning, but he was always happy to go home at night,” said Supervisory Special Agent Bob Johnson, Special Agent Hicks’ supervisor on the Joint Terrorism Task Force based out of the Pittsburgh FBI field office. “Tell me that wasn’t a perfect life.”

Agent Hicks would have been 34 on Thanksgiving, but died Wednesday morning after he was shot in the upper chest, above his bulletproof vest, as he and nine other officers raided the home of Christina and Robert Korbe in the rural suburb of Indiana Township.

The law enforcement agents were at the house to arrest Robert Korbe, one of 35 people targeted in a suburban drug sweep. Christina Korbe, 40, has been charged with criminal homicide for firing at Special Agent Hicks, but has told police she thought she was firing at a burglar.

Special Agent Hicks’ sister, his sister-in-law and five of his colleagues met with the media Thursday at the Pittsburgh FBI office to share stories about him and, more importantly, to make sure he’s remembered by his son. The family plans to establish a memorial fund to help finance Noah’s college education.

“We’re going to do everything in our power to make sure Noah knows Sam loved him,” said sister-in-law Angela Hohman, 24, of Baltimore.

Special Agent Hicks is survived by his wife, Brooke, 28, a Baltimore native who plans to move back to that city, where his funeral will be held. Arrangements were pending, but he likely will be buried in the Fallen Heroes section of Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens in Timonium, north of Baltimore.

Special Agent Hicks’ colleagues, their eyes still red-rimmed with tears, remembered him as an extraordinary agent and a quick study.

They said he would rather be in civvies than a suit, and on the streets gathering intelligence or grabbing drug dealers than behind a desk. But they insist he was married to Brooke alone, not his job.

“He knew you weren’t going to get the job done sitting behind the computer screen,” Special Agent Dan Yocca said.

But Special Agent Hicks knew “it wasn’t about the running and the gunning all the time,” said another task force member, Allegheny County Detective Terry Lewis. “It was about getting home to Noah and his wife.”

Special Agent Hicks quickly made great strides in his 20-month career with the FBI, and balanced that with family life. Instead of working late and making his family compete for quality time, he came in early to get ahead on his work.

In August, he was accepted into a special terrorism intelligence program in Amman, Jordan, even though bureau guidelines required at least five years of service, Special Agent Johnson said. Only 10 other agents from across the nation were in the program, he said.

The FBI made an exception for Special Agent Hicks, based on his street smarts gained from five years undercover in Baltimore and his exceptional people skills. “This individual was way, way above the baseline,” Special Agent Johnson said.

At home, Special Agent Hicks’ social and other obligations were put on hold at 8 p.m., because that was “Noah time”; first a bath, then to bed.

“He gave Noah his bath every single day he was here,” Emily Hicks said of her brother. “That was his time.”

Special Agent Hicks also taught Noah a “secret handshake” last weekend, that ended with a bump of the knuckles.

Emily and Angela, Special Agent Hicks’ sister-in-law, laughed and cried as they recalled Noah knuckle-bumping FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, who visited Brooke Hicks and her son Thursday.

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