UPDATE: A Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier died in Afghanistan on Saturday, the 36th and likely last reported fatality from the local base in 2012.
Pfc. Markie T. Sims, of Citra, Fla., died a week before his 21st birthday in southern Afghanistan in the blast of improvised explosive device, the Pentagon announced Monday.
Sims was a combat engineer who enlisted in the Army in November 2011. This was his first deployment.
Sims ran track and played basketball in high school and graduated from Marion Technical Institute in Ocala, Fla.
Sims’ mother, Wanda Thompson, told the Star-Banner newspaper that her son told the family shortly after that he was joining the military.
“I didn’t want him to go,” she told the newspaper by telephone from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where she flew to identify her son’s body, “because of the stuff that happens there. That’s my baby. He was a boy. I didn’t want him to go.”
In October, Sims married his wife, Shakeli. She is pregnant with Sims’ child, his family said.
Sims’ brother Demarrio was slated to report for basic training on Jan. 6, his brother’s birthday, but his training date has been pushed back.
“But that’s one of the reason I’m joining, because of him,” Sims’ brother Demarrio told the newspaper. “That’s what’s going to motivate me to get through basic training.”
He was assigned to the 38th Engineer Company, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, which deployed to Afghanistan in November to replace another Lewis-McChord-based Stryker brigade. Sims is the unit’s third fatality during the deployment. The brigade is due back in August.
This year was the deadliest for Lewis-McChord soldiers since 2009, the last time all three Stryker brigades based at Lewis-McChord sent overseas in roughly the same year.
The base’s deadliest year came in 2007, during the height of the “surge” in Iraq, when 92 of its soldiers lost their lives.
The death toll is certain to come down this year. The 4th Brigade’s tour is expected to be the last major deployment for a Lewis-McChord Stryker brigade in Iraq or Afghanistan.
The soldiers of the 3rd Brigade are home and will celebrate their official homecoming in February, around the time their peers from the 2nd Brigade are welcomed back by families.
Lt. Gen. Robert Brown, the commanding general of Lewis-McChord and I Corps, said the base’s focus will shift to the Pacific Rim as the U.S. military winds down more than a decade of war in the Middle East. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said the U.S. will end combat operations in Afghanistan this year, preceding the full exit of troops in 2014.
Here’s the breakdown of Lewis-McChord fatalities from prior years, according to The News Tribune’s military casualties database that can be found here:
2011 — 9
2010 — 26
2009 — 39
2008 — 12
2007 — 92
2006 — 18
2005 — 35
2004 — 35
2003 — 7
2002 — 2
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ORIGINAL POST: A Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier died Saturday from wounds suffered in Afghanistan, according to the Department of Defense.
They have not said how Pfc. Markie T. Sims, 20, of Citra, Fla., was killed.
He was assigned to the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.
Sims joined the Army in November 2011. This was his first deployment to Afghanistan.