Staff Sgt, Marc Scialdo was a great leader with a tremendous sense of duty and humor who lit up a room by his presence.
That's how he was remembered Saturday as the new U.S. Army Reserve Center on Corbett Road, across the street from the VA facility, was dedicated in his honor in a touching tribute to him.
The day was somber, but also hopeful, as local dignitaries, friends, family, even total strangers came to remember and hear stories and tributes about the Naples resident who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country.
Staff Sgt, Marc Scialdo
"He was a guy who made your day. He walked in and everybody's day was better because he was there," said Grant Stange, sergeant major with the 603rd Aviation Support Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division, who commanded Scialdo. "He was always joking, smiling and he was what you hope for as a command sergeant major. He had natural leadership ability."
The Army wasn't his whole life. Scialdo was also remembered as a family man and friend.
"His dad was my Cub Scout master and T-ball coach and we went to school together. When I deployed to Iraq I ran into him. In Korea I ran into him. It makes the world very small," said Matthew Loebs, who grew up with Scialdo in Naples and eventually served with him.
"We were extremely honored. It's bittersweet and my brother would be truly proud and the turnout was amazing with the Patriot Guard Riders and people we don't even know," said sister Jackie Nelson, who resides in Orlando. "He truly deserves this and I think his friends would agree. He will carry on in our hearts."
The event began with a flyover, followed by testimonials from Major Gen. Gill P. Peck, commander of the 81st Regional Support Command; Lt. Col. Scott Leblond of the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, and a proclamation was made by Cape Coral Councilmember Rana Erbrick, declaring Saturday Marc Scialdo Day.
It ended with the unveiling of a plaque that will sit at the main entrance, as well as a ribbon-cutting by Scialdo's family, and an open house, where the public was able to see where the soldiers train.
Scialdo who joined the Army shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, was near Kandahar City on March 11, 2013 when the Black Hawk helicopter he was riding in crashed as he served during Operation Enduring Freedom.
Loebs believed Scialdo's heroism should be remembered.
"When he died, the opportunity presented itself that we could name it after a great leader, and I asked the family for their permission and they gave me the go-ahead," Loebs said. "I'm glad we got it together for him. What we do here is his personality, We're out in the community."
Nelson presented Loebs with a plaque as a way of thanks for his role in getting the facility named in his honor.
The new facility will house four companies, which include the 365th Engineering, the 451st Quartermaster Company, the 810 Military Police detachment and a drill sergeant company.
It will also house a tribute to the man the facility is named after, with memorabilia, photos and other remembrances of someone who served with them and defined service.