Homer Hadley Hickam Jr. (born February 19, 1943) is an American author, Vietnam veteran, and a former NASA engineer who trained the first Japanese astronauts. His 1998 memoir Rocket Boys (also published as October Sky) was a New York Times Best Seller and was the basis for the 1999 film October Sky. Hickam's body of written work also includes several additional best-selling memoirs and novels, including the "Josh Thurlow" historical fiction novels and his 2015 best-selling Carrying Albert Home: The Somewhat True Story of a Man, his Wife, and her Alligator. His books have been translated into many languages.
Homer H. Hickam Jr. is the second son of Homer Sr. and Elsie Gardener Hickam (née Lavender). He was born and raised in Coalwood, West Virginia, and graduated from Big Creek High School in 1960. He and friends Roy Lee Cooke, Sherman Siers, O'Dell Carroll, Billy Rose, and Quentin Wilson, became amateur rocket builders and called themselves The Big Creek Missile Agency (BCMA). After many generations of designs, they qualified for the 1960 National Science Fair and won a gold and silver medal in the area of propulsion.
Hickam served as a 1st Lieutenant in the 4th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army from 1967 to 1968 during the Vietnam War. He was awarded the Army Commendation Medal and a Bronze Star Medal. In total, Hickam served six years of active duty and was honorably discharged at the rank of Captain in 1970.