Saturday, October 9, 2010

Sgt. Mark Allen Simpson, United States Army

Memorial Service, Afghanistan
Memorial Service, Afghanistan

  Sgt. Mark Allen Simpson, United States Army

Mark Allen Simpson was born February 3, 1970 in Peoria, Illinois, and died September 26, 2010 in Kandahar, Afghanistan at the age of 40.

Mark grew up in Peoria, was an avid computer gamer and graduated from Richwoods High School in 1988.  As the youngest of the five children of George and Carol Simpson, Mark was a prankster and could give as good as he got, according to his sister.

After graduation from high school, Mark, filled with a wanderlust, moved around the country,  working in construction in Colorado, as a sheriff in El Paso and as a bailiff in Colorado Springs.  He was an avid Trekkie and a fan of the New England Patriots.

Mark enlisted in the United States Army in late 2004.  He considered the Army  a way to provide for his family, yet travel, see the world and meet people.

After basic training, he was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division, then transferred to the 20th Engineer Battalion at Fort Hood, Texas.  He deployed to Iraq in August 2006 where he served in the “Triangle of Death,” a volatile region south of Baghdad.

In January 2010 he deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  He was assigned to the 584th Mobility Augmentation Company, 20th Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade.  The 20th Engineer Battalion is a combat engineer route clearance unit currently operating in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as Task Force LUMBERJACK.

On Sunday, September 26, 2010, insurgents attacked Sgt. Simpson’s military vehicle with an improvised explosive device at Forward Operating Base Frontenac, Afghanistan.  In addition to Sgt. Simpson, Specialist Donald Scott Morrison, 23, of Cincinnati, Ohio was killed.  Sgt. Daniel Krause and Specialist Steven Heberlin were injured and were awarded the Purple Heart for their injuries.

Sgt. Simpson’s many military decorations and awards include the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and the Army Commendation Medal.

On September 30 a memorial service was conducted in Afghanistan for Sgt. Simpson and Specialist Morrison by their unit.

On October 7, 2010, a charter aircraft returned Sgt. Simpson to Fort Hood for the last time.  Waiting outside the Fort Hood airport were over sixty motorcycles of the Patriot Guard Riders from all over central Texas.  They escorted the hearse containing Sgt. Simpson to the Harper-Talasek Funeral Home in Killeen, Texas.

In the evening, a visitation was held at the funeral home.  The Patriot Guard Riders were in attendance to form a line of American flags at the entrance to the funeral home to welcome the arriving family and friends.

At noon on October 8,  funeral services were held at the funeral home.   Once again, the Riders were present with a line of American flags.

At the conclusion of the services, over 75 Patriot Guard Riders led the funeral procession to the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery at Killeen, Texas.  There, fifty American flags, waving in the Texas wind, lined the roadway to the committal shelter.

The Patriot Guard Riders, 80 strong by this time, enveloped the committal shelter with a line of flags, as full military honors were rendered by the United States Army Honor Guard.

A seven rifle detail fired three volleys of fire, representing “Honor, Duty and Country.”  The Army bugler played taps.  The rifle detail then stacked their weapons and marched to the flag draped coffin.  The detail folded the American flag, that had draped the coffin through it’s travels, into the traditional triangle.  Three spent cartridges were place into the flag, representing Honor, Duty, Country.  The folded flag was then ceremoniously passed to Brigadier General Donald MacWillie who then presented the flag to Mark’s dear wife, Aletha, on behalf of the President of the United States, the United States Army and a grateful nation, in gratitude for the service and sacrifice of Sgt. Simpson and his family.  Folded flags were also presented to his mother and his three daughters.

Sgt. Mark Allen Simpson was then laid to rest on the gentle wind-swept plain of the cemetery, as his family watched from afar. 

Left to cherish his memory are his wife, three daughters, his parents, a brother, three sisters, numerous other dear family and friends, and his comrades in the United States Army here and abroad.

He was preceded in death by his son, Mark Allen Simpson, Jr.

A memorial service will be held in Sgt. Simpson’s hometown on October 12, 2010, at the El Vista Baptist Church.  Patriot Guard Riders will be in attendance, again, to honor this fallen hero.

With thanks to the Killeen Daily Herald, and the United States Army for biographical and historical information.

Special thanks to the  20th Engineer Battalion for photographs of their memorial service.

1 comment:

  1. MarineMajor - permission to share/repost some of these images on my Facebook page? I am in at least one of them.

    Thank you in advance Sir.

    Don "The Don" Cann