A 20-year-old Marine from Atco who dreamed of becoming a police officer after a stint in the military was killed by an improvised explosive device this week in Anbar province, Iraq, the Department of Defense said yesterday.

Lance Cpl. Jon T. Hicks Jr., a 2005 graduate of Hammonton High School, died Monday with Cpl. Carlos Gilorozco, 23, of San Jose, Calif., during combat, the military said.

The men were assigned to the Second Battalion, Ninth Marine Regiment, Second Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Hicks' father, Jon Hicks Sr., 52, of Atco, said his son had intended to go to college and then into the Marine Corps before going to the police academy.

"But he changed his mind," Hicks said. "He worked for a little bit and relaxed for six months after he graduated from high school, then went into boot camp" on Jan. 12, 2006.

Hicks said his son had chosen the infantry over the military police because he hadn't wanted military police traditions to affect him when he entered the police academy.

One of the Marine's grandmothers, Virginia M. Hicks, 85, of Atco, said he had seen the Marine Corps as a pathway to law enforcement.

"He wanted to be a policeman badly, and he believed if you've been in the Marines, you'd be the first chosen to be on the force," she said. "That's why he went into the Marines.

"Becoming a policeman was all he dreamed about. . . . This has been a very tough time for us."

Jon Hicks Sr. said his son also had enjoyed football and followed the Philadelphia Eagles. He "liked playing video games and loved playing paint ball," too, the father said.

In addition to his father and grandmother, Jon Hicks Jr. is survived by his mother, Cathy; a 19-year-old brother, Kyle; and grandparents Myra and Charles Worrell.

Friends may call after 9 a.m. next Thursday at Assumption Roman Catholic Church, 318 Hasselhan Dr., Atco, where a Funeral Mass will be said at noon. Burial will be in Atco Cemetery.