November 14, 2004

FUTURE

Over the past two weeks, the husband and I talked a lot about the future. We talked about where we'd like our next duty station to be. The husband started studying for the GMAT. We talked about making the final payment on our car, our cruise that's scheduled for May, and my job prospects for next year. On Saturday night, we cracked open a bottle of cheap champagne to celebrate our good fortune and bright future. And then the phone rang.

CPT Sean Sims was killed in Iraq.

We don't know CPT Sims personally, but I know his wife and infant son fairly well. I couldn't believe the news. As we sat there, the champagne soured and our future started to look a bit more precarious...making our last 24 hours bleak and somber. I couldn't stop thinking about the Sims family for the rest of our weekend. She's going through the worst possible thing that will ever happen to her, and all I could think of is what every military wife understands: it could just as easily be happening to me. All of our worst fears are materializing for someone I care about, and there's nothing I can do about it. In the end, all I could do was snuggle under my husband's arm and cry, cry for a baby who will never know his father and a wife who will go through hell. Our weekend took an ugly turn, but we faced it together, choked down the rest of the champagne, and went to sleep in our bed for the last night in a while.

I just dropped him off at the bus. Our future is uncertain, but at least we know we made the most out of the two weeks we just had.

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Company commander dies on Fallujah mission

By TOM LASSETER
Knight Ridder Newspapers

FALLUJAH, Iraq - Capt. Sean Sims was up early Saturday, looking at maps of Fallujah and thinking of the day's battle. His fingers, dirty and cracked, traced a route that snaked down the city's southern corridor.

"We've killed a lot of bad guys," he said. "But there's always going to be some guys left. They'll hide out and snipe at us for two months. I hope we've gotten the organized resistance."

Sims, a 32-year-old from Eddy, Texas, commanded his Alpha Company without raising his voice. His men liked and respected him. When faced with a broken down vehicle or rocket propelled grenades exploding outside, he'd shake his head a little and say, in his mellow drawl, "We'll be OK. This'll work out."

When he noticed that one of his soldiers, 22-year-old Arthur Wright, wasn't getting any care packages from home, Sims arranged for his wife, a school teacher, to have her students send cards and presents.

Sitting in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle that was pocked by shrapnel from five days of heavy fighting, Sims figured he and his men - of the 1st Infantry Division's Task Force 2-2 - had maybe three or four days left before returning to base.

They were in southwest Fallujah, where pockets of hardcore gunmen were still shooting from houses connected by labyrinths of covered trench lines and low rooftops.

A CNN crew came by, and Sims' men led them around the ruins, showing them the bombed-out buildings and bodies of insurgents that had been gnawed on by neighborhood dogs and cats.

The father of an infant son, Sims was still trying to get over the death of his company's executive officer, Lt. Edward Iwan, a 28-year-old from Albion, Neb., who'd been shot through the torso the night before with an RPG.

"It's tough. I don't know what to think about it yet," he said slowly, searching for words. "All of this will be forever tainted because we lost him."

Shaking off the thought, he threw on his gear and went looking for houses to clear.

A group of rebels was waiting. They'd been sleeping for days on dirty mats and blankets, eating green peppers and dates from plastic tubs. They spied on soldiers who occupied nearby houses without knowing the enemy was so close, watching and waiting.

When Sims and his men came through the front door, gunfire raged for a few minutes. Two soldiers were hit near the shoulder and rushed out by the man next to them.

Crouching by a wall outside, Sgt. Randy Laird screamed into his radio, "Negative, I cannot move, we're pinned down right now! We have friendlies down! Friendlies down!"

The 24-year-old from Lake Charles, La., crouched down on a knee, sweating and waiting for help.

A line of troops ran up, taking cover from the bullets. They shot their way into the house.

Sims lay on a kitchen floor, his blood pouring across dirty tile. An empty tea pot sat on nearby concrete stairs. A valentine heart, drawn in red with an arrow through it, perched on the cabinet.

His men gasped. There was no life in his eyes.

"He's down," Staff Sgt. Thorsten Lamm, 37, said in the heavy brogue of his native Germany.

"Shut the (expletive) up about him being dead," yelled back Sgt. Joseph Alvey, 23, of Emid, Oklahoma. "Just shut the (expletive) up."

The men sprinted to a rubble-strewn house to get a medic.

The company's Iraqi translator, who goes by Sami, was waiting. He asked, "Is he in there? Is he there?"

He tried running out of the door with his AK-47 ready. As men held him back, he fell down against a wall, crying into his hands.

When the troops rushed back, they lifted Sims' body into a pile of blankets and carried it into the closest Bradley.

Six soldiers and a reporter piled in after, trying not to step on the body.

In Baghdad, interim Minister of State for national security Qasim Daoud had announced that the city of Fallujah was now under control.

In the surrounding neighborhood, troops furious at the news of their fallen leader called in revenge, in the form of a 2,000 pound bomb airstrike and a storm of 155 millimeter artillery shells. A mosque lost half a minaret, its main building smoldering in fire and smoke.

In the back of the Bradley with Sims' body, no one spoke.

The only sound was Wright sobbing in the darkness.

Posted by: Sarah at 10:09 PM | Comments (10) | Add Comment
Post contains 1055 words, total size 6 kb.

1 Good luck, and be strong. I am wishing you and your man all the very best.

Posted by: Dominic at November 15, 2004 07:22 AM (uyRJS)

2 Sarah - I am truly sorry for the loss of that man for his wife and son. I hope you enjoyed every second of your two weeks with your husband. It is the families of the soldier's that sacrifice the most for their service and being grateful (we are) isn't enough - but it's all we've got to give. Although it may be difficult - you should offer a shoulder to that woman who indeed is suffering and bewildered. It might not seem like much - but I'm sure she needs the support. God bless you.

Posted by: Kathleen A at November 15, 2004 07:28 AM (vnAYT)

3 Was enjoying your latest entry, until. Then you drop-kicked me right in the stomach. A nice, good evangelical prayer seems so insufficient, now, and when I cannot form the words, I sometimes reach into the liturgy: "Kyrie eleison, Christa eleison, Kyrie elieson." (Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.) That is all I can pray on behalf of CAPT Sims' wife and her (THEIR!!) son. I continue remembering you, Sarah, and your husband, too. Be safe, sir. Be strong, Sarah. Grace and peace be yours, Jim

Posted by: Jim Shawley at November 15, 2004 01:31 PM (CnYsu)

4 God bless you both. Be strong Sarah. Many people are praying for you and we are aching for the young mother and child. May God comfort them and you.

Posted by: Pamela at November 15, 2004 06:57 PM (AOFgp)

5 Mark Levin read the piece about Captain Sims in its entirety on WABC radio tonight. No words can console his widow. I hope she and their son find peace in knowing what a wonderful man he was. He made the ultimate sacrifice for them, for you and for me. I shall never forget that.

Posted by: Jim - PRS at November 15, 2004 10:40 PM (BjDAE)

6 Strength---courage---vision. Please tell Mrs Sims that her husband is a hero---his service has made our world a better, safer place. Small comfort, right now, but true. Damn.

Posted by: david at November 16, 2004 12:36 AM (ZVhuO)

7 My prayers go out to the wife and family of CPT Sims. Sarah, my prayers and strength go out to you as well. The only thing you can do right now is be there for her, she's going to need all the support she can get. I was in your shoes 2 weeks ago, I pray I'm never there again. Stay strong and take care of you. Tink

Posted by: Tink at November 16, 2004 05:50 AM (S6VXg)

8 The Sims family, those in harm's way, and those who love them, will be in our prayers when we put our son to bed tonight.

Posted by: LMC at November 16, 2004 04:50 PM (61/Yb)

9 Sarah: I'm so sorry. This stuff just hits so hard. I used to be more resilient, but lately it seems each time I hear a familiar name it hurts more, not less. Hold your husband extra long the next time you see him. The only upside I've been able to see in all of this is that it makes me appreciate every second, see so much more clearly everything we have that is worth preserving. We are so very lucky. God bless you, hon.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 17, 2004 08:15 AM (289B8)

10 CPT Sims was a great man to work with and had the respect and admiration of his soldiers, NCOs and Officers. Prayers to his wife and infant son. May the find comfort soon. CPT Sims has made the ultimate sacrifice. HE WILL NOT BE FOGOTTEN!

Posted by: SFC Brosch at November 19, 2004 06:18 AM (RdIXW)

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