Army Staff Sgt. Michael Simpson, a Green Beret who died from injuries sustained in Afghanistan, was remembered affectionately Wednesday as “the unquiet professional.”
Special Forces soldiers are known for unconventional warfare and completing missions without drawing attention. But if people were unaware that Simpson was assigned to the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, he wasn’t shy about letting them know.
“I’ve never in my life known anyone who loved being a Green Beret more than Mike,” wrote his teammate, Sgt. 1st Class Gus Anderson, in remarks read at Simpson’s memorial service. “Being a Green Beret was Mike’s calling. The first time Mike introduced himself to me, he said, ‘I’m Staff Sgt. Simpson, Green Beret.’ Mike lived those words every day.”
Simpson was seriously injured April 27 in a blast from an improvised explosive device. He had been scouting routes so his team could return to base after a day of combat operations.
He died May 2 at a military hospital in Germany.
He is the third Lewis-McChord soldier to die in combat this year and the second from the 4th Battalion of the 1st Special Forces Group, reflecting how the fight has shifted to special operators as Stryker infantry brigades have returned to Lewis-McChord.
The son of a retired Special Forces officer, Simpson joined the regular Army in 2003. He was a weapons expert who deployed to Iraq with a Germany-based Stryker combat brigade in 2007.
He qualified as a Green Beret in the summer of 2011, joined his 12-man team at Lewis-McChord in late 2012 and quickly established himself as its hardest-working soldier, said Sgt. Carl Alvarez, another teammate whose remarks were read at the service.
Alvarez recalled that as the unit was preparing to deploy, Simpson came back late one night to finish his work after having dinner with his wife, Krista.
“He could have easily waited until the next day, but his unending dedication to finishing the task at hand was what made him who he was,” Alvarez wrote.
Speakers at the memorial said Simpson was a man of charisma and good humor.
Alvarez recalled Simpson singing a song from Doc McStuffins, a Disney cartoon that he watched with his children. Alvarez, also a father, joined in, and the two friends laughed when their impromptu duet drew quizzical looks from the team’s younger members.
Simpson loved riding all-terrain vehicles, and Alvarez recalled the expression of unadulterated joy on Simpson’s face one day while riding ATVs at the Yakima Training Center.
“He was a like a kid on Christmas Day with that huge grin of his,” he said.
Simpson loved his family as much as he loved the Green Berets. Anderson said Simpson told him his wife was his source of strength and love, but his favorite time was when he was alone with his two sons, Michael, 3, and Gabriel, 1.
That way, Anderson said, “they could get in all kinds of mischief.”
Christian Hill: 253-274-7390