In Memory

Serge Benson Simmons

Serge Benson Simmons


Serge Benson Simmons

March 24, 1944 ~ November 3, 1969



FARR WEST, Utah - 

No full obituary was ever published on Serge Simmons, who died in in combat during the Vietnam War as a US Marine First Lieutenant, though a few news stories were.  He's also since been memorialized in other ways, e.g., with a ball park, Serge Benson Simmons Field, near Fort Buena Ventura in Ogden, Utah dedicated in his name.  

The articles from the time are below along with a number of pictures and other documents which have been provided by Serge's widow, our Classmate Jane Chugg Renstrom, to help tell his story, and she has added more materials in her comments following this profile.


Wendy, Serge, Jane, Tim, and Chantile Simmons Family, 1968




"...Days in the life..."

(More photos appear in the comments by Jane Chugg Renstrom below this post) 


          Serge, Mom (Sergene), David, Linda Lou Simmons, approximately 1947 



Elementary class, approximately 1952


Roy Jr. High Class President, 1958-59


As we knew him at Weber


As a Marine...


....And, finally below, in his own hand, meditating on the nature of life and love...

The Committee also thanks Classmates Jim "Maynard" Keller and Linda Fowers Thurgood for their assistance in gathering, restoring and posting these materials. Page posted 4/25/2012


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01/24/12 09:56 PM #1    

Jane Chugg (Renstrom)

Serge is sadly not here to write his own comments about his short-lived life of 25 years.  I am sure most of our classmates already know he was killed by a mine in Vietnam and died aboard a ship, the USS Sanctuary.

From the Vietnam War "Virtual Wall"
(You may also leave your comments on this website which is visited by many.)

Because of the Internet, many of his men who served with him have contacted me and my son to either tell us about how much they loved Lt. Simmons. or to find closure to their own troubled lives they led during the war and after coming home.  The comments they have shared with me were all much the same - Serge was a loved and respected leader and would only ask his men to do what he personally would do himself. 

He didn't have to go on patrol the horrible day his platoon left for the "bush," but he went anyway.  The day turned into night and they couldn't get back, so unprepared as they were, they stayed out all night in the rain. They were cold, wet and hungry and therefore hurrying back to the Marine compound.  The radio man was a substitute for the regular radio carrier, and because he was carrying a heavy load of equipment, he walked through a puddle instead of around the puddle. He set off a "Bouncing Betty Mine" and that not only  killed him but wounded three others.  I do not know what happened to the others, but Serge died aboard the ship where they evacuated him for treatment.  He officially died of loss of blood.  

A Marine captain came to where I was teaching at Bonneville High to inform me of his death.  I was called out into the hallway and was given the news, just as the class change bell rang - and I remember the students seeing my distress and reacting to it.  And I later received the telegram below, several days after the visit:



Legacy and Reflections

Serge did leave behind three wonderful children and would now have 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.  It is funny because I still think of him as young-- as like--young in high school.  Perhaps it is because that is when we fell in love and our big senior year was so memorable.

Serge was born on March 4, 1944 and grew up in Roy, Utah.  His parents had married later in life, in their thirties, and wanted children more than anything else on earth.  He had four siblings; Linda Lou (died at age 12), Frank Jr., Serge and David.  David lives in the Ogden area and Frank lives on the east coast.  Serge's parents were part of our family and treated all my six children as their grandchildren even though only three were blood relatives. 


Serge with Mom (Sergene), Dad (Frank Sr.), Brothers, David and Frank, Jr.,    

approximately 1947-48, Roy, Utah (wearing his Dad's shoes, center picture)


What I remember mostly about Serge and school was his great love of learning.  He would transfer out of the easy teachers and get into the difficult teachers' classes.  In elementery school he had Mr. Brady as a teacher for his 5th and 6th gade years. 


Mr. Brady related to me that Serge had "a reputation" among the faculty members and he decided he had to get on the side of this kid or have a battle.  He made Serge the editor of the "school newspaper" and they got along very well.  Apparently Serge needed a reason to work hard for his teacher.  


Serge's Elementary Class, approximately 1953

Later in the 6th grade year, Serge was sick but demanded to go to school the second half of the day.  When he walked into the classroom, all the students stood up and clapped.  I hope those of you that went to school in Jr. High with Serge will add some memories as I can't remember any and I didn't know him at that time. However, I have recently received these pictures from those days:



Roy Jr. High Yearbook ("Memory Lane") 1959 - Class President and Football Co-Captain

(Also pictured: Rosalie Reeder, Bonnie Souter, Class officers and Lyle Johnston, Football)


Then there were the major dances of course, and for example when he was nominated for Harvest Ball King but lost to his friend - the after game "Stomps," the football games (where he played and loved the game) plus the antics that all remember, if they knew Serge. 


He was kicked out of school for growing a beard and for not tucking in his shirt tail.  As a result, his friends convinced the very conservative higher powers of the school to let them have a beard growing contest.  As for the shirt tail - once again his friends went in and pleaded his case to the Administration.

Later, my parents were at Weber High and an administrator asked about me.  Dad told them that I married Serge Simmons.  The administrator said Serge was one of the highest scoring students on the achievement tests that we took at that time.  When Dean Evans heard that Serge was killed, she stated what a loss it was to the world and how sad for someone like him to be killed at such a young age.


Serge in Marine dress Uniform

Serge wanted to make a difference in the country he loved and was so proud.  I know he made a difference to his beloved Marine Infantrymen because so many have told me so. 


Graduating Class, Officer's Candidate School

Even though the war didn't turn out well, his sacrifice is no less than the decorated war heroes of today, of WW II and all the other wars.  Through his children he has made a difference.  They didn't know him well or even at all, but they knew his parents--Grandma and Grandpa Simmons--who loved their grandchildren dearly and shared the strong genetic pool of great people.   


Serge and Jane with Wendy, Tim and Chantile

So, here we are at age ?? and what difference have we made or what contribution have we made?  Maybe 25 years is enough for some people.  I have needed more time and still need to look at what I can do to make life better place.   


Posted April, 2012


01/29/12 08:55 PM #2    

Tom Grimm


Serge made High School better for me.  He accepted who I was without reservation.  I felt like I belonged because of him.  I always felt that he was one of my very best friends.  Later on I found out that everyone who knew Serge and was around him for any length of time felt the same way .  He had this amazing ability to make you feel good about yourself and that he would always be there for you should you need him. 


It was a terrible day when I received word that Serge had died in the service of his country as a Marine in Viet Nam.  We all owe a great deal for the sacrifice that Serge, Jane and their family gave on behalf of each of us.  I had just accepted a job with Target Stores in Minneapolis and could not get away for his funeral and even if I had had the time off I did not have the money to return to Utah at that time.  It is one of my single biggest regrets.  I will never forget this wonderful man and all that he did for me in the short time that I was priviledged to know him.  I did have the opportunity to meet his son Tim and I must tell you it was like seeing Serge.  Boy, he looks like his Dad.


Serge was then and is now one of our greatest classmates.  What a loss for each of us that he will not physically be at our reunion.  Thanks Serge for the great memories!


Love Tom Grimm

01/30/12 10:00 PM #3    

Warren Johns

Serge B. Simmons: “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head”


That’s the song that was playing when I read of Serge’s passing and no matter where I am or who I’m with, when I hear that song, the raindrops start falling from my eyes and I think of Serge.  We all know Serge was virtually everyone’s best friend and it was truly this big man’s way to treat everyone like they were his best friend.  He treated his teammates and those not so athletically inclined like myself the same. 


I met Serge the first week at Weber and he convinced me it was better to have our Moms make a sandwich than eat in the cafeteria.  I think he grew a beard the next day. We ate lunch in the old gym together virtually every day and that’s where he taught me his determination.  He said, “If Thom and Jane ever break up, she’ll be mine forever.”  I knew he meant it and obviously, we all know it happened and the great times, albeit short, they spent together. After the break up, Serge and I didn’t have lunch together as often.


I got married to Sharon and dropped out of and more or less gave up on college after a couple of years—Serge didn’t.  Whenever I saw Serge, he never said, “Hello Geno”, whether it was at the Beeline Station, at their home in Harrisville Heights or any other accidental encounter, it was always, ‘When are you going to get your butt back to school?”  (He didn’t say “butt”.) I withstood the pressure for a few years and luckily, I got to tell him I’d signed up to return to college the last time I ever saw him.  I’ll never ever regret that chance opportunity and it’s a day I’ll never forget and certainly, I’ll never forget that tender, gentle and yet toughest guy I’ve ever met.  We all miss our best friend Serge. Although I’ve never said it before, I want to thank Tom Grimm for the lasting dedication of the field he made for Serge—a true act of admiration for a man and a great friend who deserved it. 




08/11/12 03:26 PM #4    

Anita Mapes (Kersey)

Dear Jane...........What a great night last night was.  After all these years to have so many come together to celebrate high school graduation as we did at Earl's Lodge is impressive to say the least.  I am so happy to have been able to see you and share a few minutes of friendship. 

I don't know if other high school alumni have put together such great reunions, but it certainly would be hard to top those of you who work so hard to make our reunions unforgettable and the best anyone could have.  The website has been so much fun and informative to visit on a regular basis.  I can't wait to check it out almost every day and see new profile posts from members.....and of course all the pictures and other things that are posted there. 

I read your profile again this afternoon and was once again brought to tears.  You are such a good person and I know that Serge is smiling down with total approval of how you have gone on to live your life.  He didn't have many years on this earth but from all I have heard and read, he was an honorable, good and decent man who found love with an honorable, good and decent woman.  Thank God he had that love to take with him to Heaven.

I wish you many more years of happiness and contentment and hope to see you at the next reunion.  You take care dear friend...........Anita Kersey 

02/09/21 10:02 AM #5    

Ronald Reeves

Dear Jane

I've never expressed before how much the loss of Serge hit me like a hammer. I'm in the Elementery School pictures you posted and went to Roy Jr High, I knew Serge all through School and was in the Navy and serving in the Tolkin Gulf, Vietnam for two tours while Serge went to collage. Yes Jane, he did make a difference. Some will argue the point, but he influnced a lot of people including me. 

I wanted to contribute something to his memory and I don't know if this will make a difference. I was TDY working for the Government in Washington DC and had a chance to go to the Vietnam Mamorial (The Wall), but I couldn't do it alone. It's hard when you knew some of the men whose names are there. I went back to the wall with my wonderful wife Joyce encouraging me and telling my it would help me to see and touch it, and she was right. They are more than just names on a wall, and they did make a difference. It's takeen years for some to realize that. God bless you and your family Jane.

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