Caring Army leader dies in raid
TEXAS CAPTAIN AMBUSHED IN FALLUJAH
He had won respect
BY TOM LASSETER, Knight Ridder Newspapers Nov. 15, 2004
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
"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
(RPG) 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 Vechicle that was
pocked by shrapnel from five days of heavy fighting, Sims and his men
-- of the 1st Infantry Division's Task Force 2-2 were in southwest
Fallujah, where pockets of hardcore gun-men were,
still shooting from houses connected by labyrinths
of covered trench lines and low rooftops.
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 the front door, gunfire few minutes.
Two soldiers were hit near the shoulder and rushed out by the man next
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 Enid, Okla. "Just shut the (expletive] up."
The men sprinted to a rubblestrewn 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 the surrounding neighborhood, troops furious at the news of
their fallen leader called in revenge, in the form of a bombing
airstrike and a storm of 155-mm 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.