FORWARD OPERATING BASE ZANGABAD, Afghanistan When Pfc. Matthew Jones first met Pfc. Markie Sims in basic combat training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., it was laughter from the start.
The two combat engineers ended up in the same squad in 2nd Platoon, 38th Engineer Company, where they grew close as friends and eventually like brothers, Jones said.
We were together so often that everyone would refer to me as Sims and he would be Jones, he said. When that happened, Jones said Sims would look at him and say, Sims, come on. We got to go.
However, now Jones is just Jones as he and other soldiers of Combined Task Force 4-2 (4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division) said their final goodbyes to Pfc. Markie Sims during a memorial ceremony Jan. 4 at Forward Operating Base Zangabad.
Sims was killed during combat operations Dec. 29 in the Panjwai District of Afghanistan.
The Citra, Fla., native, joined the Army in November of 2011.
After graduating basic combat training and advanced individual training, he was assigned to 4th Bde., 2nd Inf. Div. in March 2012. As a member of 2nd Platoon, he fell under the leadership of 1st Lt. Matthew Morgan. During the memorial, Morgan shared that Sims had recently married and that he and his new bride were expecting a son this spring.
Im saddened by the prospect of his son growing up not knowing his father or what sort of man he was, but I have to hope that those who knew Pfc. Sims well will be able to impress that knowledge upon his son. And that as he grows up, he will always look up to his dad, even though he is no longer with us here, Morgan said.
In addition to being a husband and soon-to-be father, Sims was an exemplary engineer, said Lt. Col. James Dooghan, the commander of 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment. He was a fitting member of a brave band of warriors completely dedicated to making every movement on routes safer for (International Security Assistance Force, Afghan National Security Force) and Afghan civilians alike.
Sims died doing his job and friends including Jones said they would not forget him.
I will never forget the days I was lucky enough to spend with a man as great as him, Jones said. Nothing will ever be the same with my brother gone from this world, but I know that he is in a better place now watching over us all.
Leaders, including Dooghan, said that Sims would live on through the people he touched in his life.
Without question, Pfc. Sims passed from us much too soon, but he lived his life to the fullest and he very much impacted everyone he made contact with, Dooghan said. He will be remembered as a loving husband, an honorable son, a professional soldier, a valiant warrior and a role model for other young Soldiers.
His awards include the National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Medal.
Sims is survived by his wife.