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Simmons was born June 7, 1923 in Geneva County, Alabama. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy from Mississippi at the age of 17 and was stationed aboard the USS California to serve in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
On December 7, 1941 the USS California came under attack from Japanese forces. The Tennessee-class battleship suffered multiple torpedo and bomb strikes which caused it catch fire and slowly flood. Simmons and 103 other crew members were killed during the infamous attack.
From December 1941 to April 1942, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased from the multiple vessels throughout Pearl Harbor including Simmons. At that time, he could not be identified and was buried as unknown remains at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP) in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Following unsuccessful efforts over the years, in 2018, the remains of 25 unidentified casualties from the USS California were exhumed and transferred to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) laboratory at Joint Base Pearl Harbor. Advances in forensic technology led to the successful identification of SEA2 Simmons from among the disinterred remains.
On June 14, 2022, Simmons was laid to rest next to his parents at Corner Creek Methodist Church Cemetery in Hacoda, Al. His name is recorded on the American Battle Monuments Commission’s Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others who are missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has finally been accounted for.