The “unquiet professional” is gone but not forgotten.
Staff Sgt. Michael Simpson lives on two years after his death in his 5-year-old son. The little one led a memorial to his dad Friday at St. Francis Cabrini School in Lakewood.
The soldier is remembered at the 1st Special Forces Group at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. His is one of the names etched in a granite memorial honoring fallen Green Berets.
And he endures with his widow, Krista Simpson, who insists, “The most important part is keeping his memory alive.”
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On Saturday, Krista Simpson received a powerful reminder that she’s not alone in carrying on her husband’s memory.
Dozens of Green Berets and family members joined her at the weekly Wear Blue: Run to Remember gathering in DuPont. It’s a national running group founded in DuPont to create a living memorial to fallen troops.
Saturday’s participants were a representation of the extended family that has helped keep her going since her husband died May 1, 2013, at an Army hospital in Germany.
“Our grieving will never go away, but they help you take that step to move forward,” said Simpson, 37, of Olympia.
She has spent the past two years trying to show her gratitude to the groups that helped her by raising money for military-connected nonprofit organizations, especially ones that assist Special Operations families.
Her own nonprofit, the Unquiet Professional, has raised tens of thousands of dollars for military support organizations. She’s also persuaded Olympia’s Hands On Children’s Museum to launch a program that offers free admission to families of fallen service members.
From the day of her husband’s death, Krista Simpson “made it a point to reach out to other people that were going through the same thing, or had gone through it,” said Gerry DeMarzo, 46, a retired Green Beret appointed to be her casualty assistance officer.
He has stayed close with the Simpsons ever since.
“It’s almost like my own family,” he said.
The Unquiet Professional takes its name from the way Staff Sgt. Simpson’s friends in the 1st Special Forces Group described him. He was a prankster with a big personality, a contrast to the buttoned-down “quiet professional” of Green Beret lore.
He grew up with a witty and rebellious streak, remembered his sister, Abby Simpson.
He once used a leaf blower inside the house after his mom asked him to sweep. On another occasion, he caused a small power outage by flicking a paper clip into electrical socket at school.
“Shenanigans,” said Abby Simpson, 39, of Lakewood. “Our parents were on a first-name basis with his principal.”
Staff Sgt. Simpson was the third Green Beret in his family. His father, retired Lt. Col. Michael W. Simpson, served in the 1st Special Forces Group. So did the fallen soldier’s older brother, Isaac.
Those ties were among the reasons many soldiers from the 1st Special Forces Group attended Saturday’s Wear Blue event. They called out Simpson’s name and several other Special Forces soldiers at a ceremony where runners recognize fallen friends.
Krista Simpson’s parents joined her from Rhode Island at Saturday’s run. They visit every month or so, taking heart in the military community that has surrounded their daughter and her two sons, Michael Jr. and Gabriel.
“I feel so much safer with Krista here because of this community,” said her mother, Shelly Kolb. “People here really pay homage. They don’t just say it. They walk the walk.”
Kolb went to St. Francis Cabrini on Friday to see Michael Simpson Jr. participate in his school’s memorial to her father. He led a Mass and thanked people for honoring his father.
“He’s got his dad’s personality,” Kolb said.