KOKOMO, IN, US
PFC, CO B, 2D BN, 69TH ARMOR, FORT BENNING, GA
04/08/2007, BAGHDAD, IRAQ
David Neil Simmons, known to his friends as Neil, was a part of a very tight knit family and the youngest of three children. He got along with everyone and was often described as “everybody’s friend” by his mother, Teri. His friends were proud to call him that and his family, especially his mother, was proud to have been so close to him; “He was a great son. He had a very big heart and a huge smile that lit up every room.” Neil was nicknamed “little Neil” despite his nearly six foot stature. He was an avid outdoorsman and enjoyed hunting and fishing with the friends he made through his outgoing and friendly personality. Neil was a huge fan of Jim Carey and often did realistic impressions of the actor to entertain.
Simmons always knew that he wanted to do something for his great country, following the footsteps of his brother and father, and enlisted in the Indiana National Guard before he even graduated from Northwestern High School in 2005. Following his time in National Guard basic training, Simmons decided to join the Army before going on active duty. His family members worried about him, but accepted that this was what he wanted to do and that he loved it more than anything.
Simmons had been in Kuwait for about three weeks before he was sent to Baghdad on April 1, 2007. Simmons called his mother, Teri Tenbrook on April 7, 2007; “he called about 10 a.m. and said he wouldn’t be able to call for a couple of days because they were going out on patrol,” Tenbrook recalls, “That was it.”
Neil’s father, David A. Simmons was busy working on putting together a care package for his son when he was notified of his son’s death.
“All I’m comfortable with is that he enjoyed doing what he did and he wouldn’t want to do anything else,” Simmons’ father said of his son. “Freedom is very expensive. You don’t know how much until something like this happens.”
On April 8, 2007, Simmons’ military vehicle was attacked by and improvised bomb and small-arms fire, according to the Department of Defense. Tenbrook, having just talked to her son days earlier was completely shocked and distraught. That Saturday, before Easter, Neil had called his mother in Kokomo, Indiana to say he would be hard to reach, “The very next morning he was killed,” said his mother. She said that the armored vehicle that her son was riding in was “entirely destroyed”.
Ironically, Simmons had always wanted to visit Arlington National Cemetery. “This is a trip he always wanted to take but this isn’t the way he wanted to do it,” his mother said. “I can’t believe I’m about to go to a service where my son is going to have a headstone in Arlington.”
A single silver, flag-draped coffin was set before the family. At the service, a seven-man squad fired three volleys, and a bugler played in the distance. Simmons was on his first tour and had only spent about a week in Baghdad before the bombing.
His fun loving personality is greatly missed by those close to him, but his devotion and time spent for his country, along with all of his armed forces brothers and sisters, are greatly appreciated by all.