Mattie Donnell Hicks was born 2 September 1914 and raised in Greensboro, North Carolina. She graduated from Dudley High School and entered nurse's training at the Grady Hospital School of Nursing in Atlanta, Georgia. Hicks graduated after three years and worked in Gainesville, Georgia, and Spartanburg, South Carolina. She also completed graduate courses in public health in both Richmond, Virginia, and Charlotte, North Carolina.
Hicks joined the ANC on 2 July 1945, and completed three weeks of basic training with an integrated unit at Camp McCoy in Wisconsin. She was shipped to the general army hospital at Camp San Luis Obispo in California, where she became a member of an African American unit. Hicks was released from the army following VJ Day in August 1945, but re-entered in March 1946. She was sent to Tilton Army Hospital at Fort Dix, New Jersey, as a general medical and surgical nurse, and then to the Fort Lee, Virginia.
From 1951 to 1953, Hicks served at the 11th Evacuation Hospital in Korea and later at the Osaka Hospital in Japan. Additional stations of duty include Lockburne Air Base in Columbus, Ohio; Valley Forge General Hospital in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania; Letterman Army Hospital in San Francisco, California; the U.S. Army Hospital at Fort Lee, Virginia; 2nd Field Hospital in Germany; the U.S. Army Hospital at Bremerhaven, Germany; and Womack Army Hospital at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Hicks retired from the army as a major in April 1966, after twenty-one years of service. She built a house in Greensboro and worked part-time as a nurse at the L. Richardson Memorial Hospital. Mattie Hicks died Greensboro on 14 March 2004.