MEDAL OF HONOR
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Clifford Chester Sims, Staff Sergeant of the United States Army and recipient of America’s highest military decoration—received the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Vietnam War. What makes a man? Maybe I should clarify by asking, what makes a man lay down his life for a comrade? Not a brother or sister, son or daughter, nor mom or dad. No, just a fellow soldier that was probably unknown to the hero years, months, or maybe days prior. Sims was born Clifford Pittman, but was orphaned at an early age. He was abandoned and found living on his own in an old school bus and occasionally with relatives that felt sorry for him. It wasn't until Clifford was 13 years of age, and adopted by James and Irene Sims, did he know anything about security or commitment. He graduated high school and joined the Army shortly after. He returned for his soon-to-be wife, Mary, and they moved to Fort Bragg December 1961. Almost six years later, he and Mary moved to Fort Campbell, Kentucky to join Company D, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. Within six months of that move, Sims was serving as Staff Sergeant in the Vietnam War. On that momentous day, during an engagement with enemy forces near Hue’ in the Republic of Vietnam, Staff Sergeant Sims paid the ultimate price for his fellow man. Eye witness reports say that Sims saved his squad by moving them quickly out of the way of a house filled with ammunition which was burning. Just as he got his men away from the house it blew up. Then moving on toward an enemy bunker, a booby— trap was set off. Sims yelled for everybody to get back, but before they could, he threw himself on the device absorbing the blast, and saving his entire squad.
Read the article in its entirety in the April 2015
Bevil newsletter, which accompanies the cover.
First Day of Issue
July 26, 2014
First Day of Issue
From reading of Clifford Sims' life before and during his time in the Army, he was a man of simple means and earnings. He joined the service after high school, lived on base with his wife. There's no indication he came from a family of high earnings. And he was black, growing up in the fifties and sixties. The battlefield though, places no limits on a man. It's said, "A man is what he is at home." May it also be said, "A man is what he is on the battlefield." Sims did not consider what his actions would cost him that day. There wasn't time for it. It was a reflex. Our swift responses reveal our heart. What his comrades saw on the battlefield that day, was who their sergeant truly was.
Released to collectors April 20, 2015, along with
As with the Navy Medal of Honor, the sky sets the mood. I hesitated to depict the silhouette of the fallen soldier. Once I did though, no "pleasant" sunset would have been appropriate. Only a dark, somber sky was fitting. After I laid down the yellow, orangish tones, it was after I darkened the sky along the grass with brown, that it became respectable. Skies are glorious. On this day, she mourns.