Sunday, September 26, 2010

Army Sgt. Mark A. Simpson

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Mark A. Simpson, 40, of Peoria, Ill.

Sgt Simpson was assigned to 20th Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas; died Sept. 26, 2010 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his military vehicle with an improvised explosive device. Also killed was Spc. Donald S. Morrison.

Being the youngest of five children, Mark Simpson was a prankster who could give as good as he got, one of his sisters recalled a few days after the soldier was killed while serving in Afghanistan.

"All day at work, I have been thinking and trying to rack my brain but I am just numb," said Carol Goewey of Spring Bay. "He was a loving father and his girls were the light of his life. He will be greatly missed by everybody."

Simpson, 40, was one of two soldiers fatally injured in an attack Saturday north of Kandahar. Simpson and the other soldier, Spc. Donald S. Morrison, 23, of Cincinnati, Ohio, died of their injuries on Sunday, according to a news release from the Pentagon.

Both were deployed with the Fort Hood, Texas-based 584th Mobility Augmentation Company, 20th Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade.

Two other soldiers were injured in the attack, according to a Facebook page affiliated with the 20th Engineer Battalion.

Funeral arrangements are pending, but Goewey said services would be in Texas. A memorial service could be held in Peoria but nothing had been planned as of Tuesday. Their parents, George and Carol Simpson, still live in the Peoria area, as do Goewey and another sister.

Choking back tears, Goewey said her brother was an avid Trekkie and a big New England Patriots fan; he used to needle his sister whenever the Patriots and the Bears would lock up.

"We would razz each other over who would win and when the Patriots did win, oh, he'd rub it in really good," she said. "But being the baby of the group, he had to hold his own."

Allen, as he went by, was a 1988 Richwoods High School graduate and enlisted in the Army in late 2004 after working a series of odd jobs in Peoria. He saw the military as a way to provide for his family and a way to fulfill his desire to see the world and meet people.

After high school, Simpson had bounced around the United States, filled with a wanderlust and a desire to "just keep moving," said his sister. He worked in construction in Colorado, as a sheriff in El Paso, and as a bailiff in Colorado Springs, according to the military.

"He did a lot of jobs, and was trying to find himself and where he belonged in life. He was one who liked to be active," she said. "He wanted to meet lots of different people and see different things. He was the type of guy who if you needed something, he would give it to you."

Simpson met his wife and after a brief romance, was married in 1996, Goewey said. The family was in Peoria until 2005 when he finished basic training. After that, they moved to New York and later to Texas.

He initially was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division before transferring to the 20th Engineer Battalion. He deployed to Iraq in August 2006 where he served in the "Triangle of Death," a then volatile region south of Baghdad.

Goewey said she and her brother were close, that they just connected more than the other siblings. She would always know he was on the other line when he called by his greeting, "Hi sis." She last talked to him about a month ago when he was home on leave. He told her not to worry if she didn't hear from him for a while and that he loved her.

His faith in God was strong, Goewey said of her brother. He was a saved Christian who loved his church and his family.

Goewey said her brother loved the Army.

"He was going to do this until he could retire or they kicked him out. He knew he needed to do this. He knew this was where he needed to be and he was proud of what he was doing."

Simpson deployed to Afghanistan in January. He earlier served in Iraq from August 2006 to October 2007.

Army Sgt. Mark A. Simpson was killed in action on 9/26/10.

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