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Wake for fallen soldier in Bonita Springs
Wake for fallen soldier in Bonita Springs: Friends and family of Staff Sgt. Marc Scialdo gathered in Bonita Springs on Thursday to pay their respect for the local soldier. Video by Guy Tubbs
The body of Staff Sgt. Marc Scialdo arrives at the Shikany Funeral Home in Bonita Springs. Scialdo, a former Naples resident, was killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan on March 11. He will be laid to rest today in Naples. / Andrew West/news-press.com

Today’s schedule

Staff Sgt. Marc Scialdo’s body will be escorted at 9:30 a.m. from Shikany’s Funeral Home, 28300 S. Tamiami Trail, Bonita Springs, to St. John The Evangelist Catholic Church, 625 111th Ave. N., Naples, for the 10 a.m. service.
Afterward, at approximately 11:30 a.m., an escort to Palm Royale Cemetery Mausoleum, 6780 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples, will take place.
Motorists in the area should be prepared for road closures as the procession moves through the city. To see a map of the procession route, go to news-press.com.

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Hundreds filtered into St. Leo Catholic Church in Bonita Springs on Thursday to pay their respects to a former Naples resident killed in a Black Hawk helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan.

Staff Sgt. Marc Scialdo, 31, died March 11.

Some who attended the wake knew him, some didn’t. Many were there to quietly support Scialdo’s family, which includes his 33-year-old widow, Kara. The couple would have celebrated their 16-month anniversary on the day Marc Scialdo died.

Scialdo’s parents, Marshall and Susan, of Naples, along with Kara Scialdo, met Marc Scialdo’s flag-draped casket after it touched down at Naples Airport on Thursday morning. After the casket was loaded into the hearse, the three huddled together at the back to view it. The hearse then traveled 14 miles north to Shikany Funeral Home.

The Patriot Guard, a group of veterans and military supporters, joined the procession and held American flags outside the church entrance. They stood at attention as Scialdo’s flag-draped coffin was carried from the hearse and into the church shortly after 5 p.m.

Kara Scialdo’s father, Gavin Lee, and stepmother, Becky, of Orlando, said they were amazed by the amount of people who turned out along the procession route.

“There were groups of people waving flags,” Becky Lee said. “I haven’t seen this kind of patriotism since 9/11, and it just renews your hope in this country.”

The Lees said their daughter was touched by the community’s support.

“The outpouring is very comforting and gratifying,” Becky Lee said.

She called Scialdo a sweet spirit who loved to laugh and have fun.

Gavin Lee said his daughter, who now lives in Naples, is heartbroken, but has a great support system.

A funeral will be held today at 10 a.m. in Naples at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, followed by a graveside service at Palm Royale Cemetery.

Marie Greenwell, of Naples, was Scialdo’s third-grade teacher at Naples Park Elementary.

“When I look at pictures of Marc that they’re showing today or have been in the newspaper, I still see the little child that I had, who was always smiling, ever happy,” Greenwell said.

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“He made a good place where he was and a better place for those in the world around him.”

Naples resident Glen Barron, one of the Patriot Guard flag bearers, said it’s an honor to “stand for people who stood for us.”

“These are people who served in the military so we can enjoy the freedoms that we have, that we so often take advantage of,” he said. “We need to honor and respect those heroes.”

The March 11 crash killed four other service members. The cause of the crash is under investigation, NATO said.

Twelve U.S. troops have been killed this year in Afghanistan. There were 297 U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan in 2012, according to the Associated Press.

Margaret and Frank Aiello, of Naples, are friends with the Scialdo family. They hail from the same homeown of Herkimer, NY.

“Our hearts are broken for them,” Margaret Aiello said. “We’re parents also.”

She said it’s great that the community has come together to show its support for the family.

Family friend Charlie Babb said he hadn’t seen Scialdo in at least four years, but had to come to pay his respects.

“He was lovely. Always upbeat, bubbly.”

Follow this reporter on Twitter @jwinchester_np.

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