ALEXANDER CITY, AL, US
U. S. Marine Corps
LCPL, 2D BN, 4TH MAR, 1ST MARINE DIVISION, CAMP PENDLETON, CA
04/10/2004, BAGHDAD, IRAQ
Lance Corporal Sims was among 3 high school buddies who joined the Marine Corps on the same day in 2001. A few months later, when terrorists struck on September 11th, Sims was ready to fight, said CPL Stephen Barrett.
“J.T. was very tough,” said Barrett, one of the three who joined that day. “He was just 5-foot-3, but he thought he was 7’5”. After the attacks, he was ready to go.”
A 2001 graduate of Benjamin Russell High School, Sims was remembered as a practical joker who wrestled and made good grades. As his funeral procession passed people stood along the road saluting and holding their hands over their hearts, schoolchildren waved American flags. This young Marine killed in Iraq was recalled by his friends as a good-natured prankster and by his mother as being cut out for the service.
“You couldn’t be sad around J.T.,” one of his best friends, Phillip Ashworth said. “He just would not allow it.”
He worked at a fast-food restaurant before entering the service. When he saw friends in the drive-through lane, he would get on the loudspeaker and tell them there was no food left and to try another place, friends recalled. At some point, he apparently decided he needed some direction, and joined the Marines.
“He said that if he’d a stayed here, that he would’ve never made anything out of himself … and the Marines were the only ones who could force him to make something out of himself,” explained his mother Margaret Kellum.
“My son died doing what he wanted to do, and that was to be a Marine.”