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A family tradition

Luke Sims joins a long legacy of military service

Posted: May 16, 2014 2:13 p.m.
Updated: May 19, 2014 5:00 a.m.
Provided by John Sims/

Retired U.S. Army Col. John Sims of Camden (left) swears his grandson, Luke Sims, into the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant during a May 11 ceremony in Wheaton, Ill. Luke also graduated from Wheaton College the same day, and is getting married June 28.

It’s not often than a man gets to swear in his own grandson into the very branch of the military he served in for 23 years. A Camden grandfather recently experienced that proud moment as he swore his grandson into the U.S. Army.

Col. John Sims (U.S. Army-ret.) served 23 years and then worked for the Kershaw County School District in the ROTC program until 1996. He traveled to Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., for his grandson, Luke Sims’, graduation on May 11, but also to swear him in to the Army the same day. Luke completed the ROTC program there and is entering the Army as a second lieutenant.

Col. Sims is a Rock Hill native who graduated from The Citadel. A genealogy buff, Col. Sims said he learned an ancestor of his late wife served in the Confederate Army and had been a prisoner of war. His own grandfather served in the Spanish-American War. 

“I graduated from The Citadel in 1956. Fifty-eight years later, I was standing on a stage commissioning my grandson,” Col. Sims said. “It comes down in sort of a generational way. To be able to get up on that stage and swear him in and sign that document to put him in the Army -- that was a great day.”

Luke is the son of Col. Sims’ son and daughter-in-law, Joel and Stephanie Sims. Via email, Luke said his grandfather, who he calls “Papa Jay,” had a great influence on his life.

“Growing up, I always looked forward to being around Papa Jay and listening to Army stories. My grandfather is the best storyteller I know and there would always be a crowd of grandkids surrounding him when he would tell stories,” Luke wrote. “As I grew older and transitioned into high school, it seemed I was destined for the military. I have never been able to put my finger on an event or time when I knew I wanted to serve my country; it always seemed to just be ingrained in me.”

Luke attended the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., for one year before deciding the Army was his true calling and transferring to Wheaton College. Like his grandfather, he said he plans to enter Branched Military Intelligence with detail in infantry. He will report to Fort Benning, Ga., in November. Luke said he knows he can depend on his grandfather’s experience to guide him.

“My grandfather will give me tips along the way about ways to avoid the typical mistakes junior officers will make,” Luke wrote, adding that family support means a lot to him. “No man or woman accomplishes anything alone. I was blessed this past weekend to have many members of my immediate and extended family come to support me. It was a surreal moment to stand on stage with Papa Jay, who that day turned back into Col. Sims, and have him conduct my swearing in ceremony. That day, however, is not an isolated incident. I have had the constant support of my family over the years pushing me to be better and pursue my dreams.”

Luke said he also owes credit for his successes to the women who have guided him, especially his grandmother, who passed away in September.

“I would be remiss not to bring up three extremely important women in my life. The first is my mother, Stephanie Sims. Sunday was my commissioning day, but more importantly it was Mothers Day. She has faithfully raised me and loved me my entire life and I love her greatly. The second is my late grandmother, who for 23 years also served in the Army. She did not wear a uniform like my grandfather but instead she was a constant support system to him and raised four kids, one of them my father,” Luke wrote. “My grandmother would end every conversation I had with her growing up by saying, ‘Luke, you’re going to make me proud.’ She never asked me if I was going to make her proud but instead told me that I was going to. I know that on Sunday there was one very proud grandmother looking down and watching the commissioning ceremony.”

Luke also credits the most recent supportive woman in his life, his fiancé, Emma Ann Rogers, daughter of Mike and Linda Rogers of Wheaton, Ill. Their wedding is planned for June 28.

“I have been blessed to find a woman that wants to serve by my side while I am in the Army,” he wrote.


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