NAPLES, Fla - Plans are in the works to bring home the body of Staff Sergeant Marc Scialdo to Naples. The 31-year-old and four other Americans were killed Monday in a Black Hawk helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan.
Now the community is planning to honor and remember the fallen hero like never before.
Marc Scialdo is the ninth Collier County soldier killed in the line of duty since the Iraq and Afghanistan wars began and for no particular reason, Captain James Elson says the others were brought home under the radar, something he deeply regrets.
"The people were important, but the event got lost in the daily mix of activities," says Elson.
As president of the Collier County Veterans Council, Elson reached out to the Naples Chamber of Commerce. 22 soldiers from Scialdo's unit based in Georgia are driving down for the service.
Elson and the Chamber want the Naples community to make sure they have complimentary hotel rooms during their visit.
"The Greater Naples Chamber is naturally a connector of people and businesses so of course we extended our hand and wanted to be as helpful as possible as these plans are being made to honor this fallen hero."
Jeremy Gentile, Armed Forces coordinator for the American Red Cross for the Southern Gulf Region says, "I think it's an outstanding idea. To bring the whole unit down, the military can't afford to do that, so I think it's a great idea to reach out to the community to do something like that."
Elson is also coordinating with local law enforcement to make sure the roads are clear for the procession from RSW to the funeral home.
"I will not allow this to fade away and to become second rate. There's nothing more important than the people who are dedicated to preserving our country," says Elson.
Anyone interested in helping Elson find hotel rooms or plan other elements of the service can call him at (239) 860-0009.
The date, time and location of the funeral are still being worked out. Trust WINK News to bring you those details as soon as they become available.