THE ISSUE: Remembering those who served.
LOCAL IMPACT: Citizens of Syracuse come together to honor the memory of fallen hero.
Eleven years after his tragic death in Anbar Province, Iraq, SFC Scott Nisely’s memory, his influence, his spirit are still very much alive in the hearts and minds of those who knew him. A crowd of over 50 gathered at Park Hill Cemetery on Sept. 30 to remember SFC Nisely and the sacrifice he made for the country and for the impact he had on those who knew him.
Garrett Gingrich, who was Nisely’s Platoon Leader with the Iowa National Guard 34th Infantry, addressed those who were present.
Men came from as far away as Dubuque, Iowa to remember him Saturday, which was exactly eleven years after that Saturday they lost him in 2006.
Gingrich said, “We love him. We miss him. We will always remember him.”
After a prayer, those present took turns walking by his gravestone to pay their respects. Gingrich had shared about coins and what they represent when left left at a grave. Coins left on a headstone let the deceased soldier’s family know that you stopped by. Leaving a penny means that the person is there to honor the fallen soldier. Anyone who trained with the soldier leaves a nickel; those who served with him leave a dime. Those who were with him when he paid the ultimate price leave a quarter. There were 13 quarters left at Nisely’s grave Saturday by those who were with him the day he perished.
Following the cemetery ceremony, they held a luncheon where they continued their time to remember him. The luncheon at Kimmel was sponsored by the Syracuse VFW and American Legion.
Norma Jean Nisely, SFC Nisely’s mother was touched by how far men traveled to be there to remember her son and celebrate his memory. “I knew they thought a lot of him… Those guys looked up to him partly because he was older, and also because of who he was,” she said.
Gingrich shared at the ceremony about the day that Nisely was killed, and he read the words that he spoke in Iraq eleven years ago as they said goodbye when Nisely’s body began the journey home. Part of his words are printed below as a tribute to him and his legacy.
“We are here to celebrate the life of Scott Nisely, a man that has had a tremendous impact on those who were lucky enough to know him.
“Sergeant First Class Nisely was truly an amazing individual. There were three facets of his life that characterize the way he lived. He lived for God, family, and his country. He was a compassionate Christian whose family came first. He spoke often of his wife, son, and daughter. He said he couldn’t have led the life he did if it wasn’t for his wonderful wife, Geri. She knew Scott loved the military. He was so proud of his son Justin and his daughter Sarah.
“Scott loved to be around the men. He loved the camaraderie of depending on each other to accomplish a mission. As a leader, he was a soldier’s leader. He cared deeply about the welfare of his men. He would always sacrifice his needs before others. He was selfless.
“I will mostly remember his interaction with the other Squad Leaders; they will never forget it either. They would give each other so much grief, it was unbelievable. I really found myself sitting around just to hear them bicker at each other. I told them they reminded me of “Grumpy Old Men,” SFC Nisely being Jack Lemon and SSG Moberly being Walter Mathau. They would give Sergeant Nisely grief about the noise he made while getting up in the morning. Apparently the older you get the more noise you make while getting up. They said there was a lot of stretching, snapping, and popping. I’m starting to relate. His sense of humor and personality will be deeply missed.
“Having him in my Platoon has been a blessing. He has brought experience and a moral fiber to our group that will never be forgotten. Most of all, he was a man of character. He encompasses every bit of the Army Values. He was a selfless leader who always placed others first. He had honor and integrity that was above reproach. He has truly made us all better men by being around him. I will say this to the men of Company C, particularly Second Platoon: Always remember him. Always remember the man that he was. Always remember the way he lived his life. He was a credit to us all.”