MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- The average day of a Marine deployed to a combat zone is anything but average. As the Global War on Terrorism rages on, Marines find themselves facing tough situations and decisions on a daily basis. With the lives of fellow Marines on the line, the ultimate goal is to return Marines home alive.
Sergeant Jason M. Simms of Philadelphia, Pa., was awarded the Purple Heart medal here, July 25, for wounds received while deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom with 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division.
Simms and his fellow Marines were driving down a major highway in a small city in Iraq, when an Improvised Explosive Device exploded beneath their vehicle.
“We were driving down the highway, when out of the blue an explosion went off,” Simms explained. “Our vehicle was caught in the open flame as shrapnel from the IED flew all around.”
Unfortunately, some Marines gave their lives and others were severely injured. Simms suffered third degree burns on his hands and needed skin graphs. He also suffered second and third degree burns on his face, ripped tendons and arteries, broke a leg and received shrapnel wounds covering his lower extremities.
The 27-year-old is the headquarters platoon sergeant for Company D as well as a Light Armored Vehicle gunner for LAR Battalion. As a LAV gunner his job is to scan for insurgents or enemy personnel setting up IEDs and watch for other potentially dangerous situations, playing a vital role in his units situational awareness.
Simms graduated from Haverford High School in Havertown, Pa., where he played hockey and dreamed about seeing the world.
He soon joined the Marine Corps for travel and now plans on making the Corps a career.
The quiet Marine is recovering, and despite his injuries he is still planning for his future.
“I plan to see more of the world and finish out my career,” Simms explained. “I like the Marine Corps lifestyle.”