Armed Forces Reserve Center honors a Fallen Hero
November 24, 2009
NEW WINDSOR - Family, friends and distinguished guests outnumbered available seats at the building dedication honoring the memory of Sgt. Catalin D. Dima at the Armed Forces Reserve Center here on Nov 22.
Dima, originally from Romania, served in the Romanian Navy and then came to the United States in search of the "American Dream" and was granted U.S. citizenship in October 2004. Sadly, his dream ended Nov. 13, 2004, when he was promoted to the rank of sergeant and killed in action on the same day during a mortar attack at Camp Victory, Iraq.
Speakers at the ceremony included Maj. Gen. William Monk III, Commanding General, 99th Regional Support Command; Col. (P) David L. Weeks, Commander of the 411th Engineering Brigade; New York State Senator William J. Larkin Jr., and Romanian Col. Marin-Claudiu Bibirita, Minster Counselor, Military Adviser to the United Nations for Romania.
All of the speakers honored Dima, remembering him for his professionalism, his commitment to others and his demonstrated strength through diversity.
"He took the foundations of leadership he learned in the Romanian Navy and built on them as a Soldier here in the United States," Monk said. "He identified what had to be done and he made it happen."
"The courage demonstrated by Sgt. Dima goes even beyond that of so many (Soldiers)," Weeks explained. "He was fighting for his country even before this citizenship was granted, but it was his country, he embraced it, loved it, served it and eventually died for it."
Dima served his new country with the honor and dignity he had previously served his native country of Romania.
"He served with devotion his native country during the time he spent in the Romania Navy Forces and chose to serve with honesty the flag of his adopted country by enrolling in the U.S. Army," said Bibirita.
The leadership in Dima's unit wanted to ensure that his sacrifice to his adopted country and his dedication to service were not forgotten. They submitted the necessary paperwork and justification to have the New Windsor Armed Forces Reserve Center dedicated to Dima and his example of selfless service.
The $19 million; 80,000 sq. foot, state-of-the-art Armed Forces Reserve Center will ensure that both the Army Reserve and Army National Guard will continue to provide trained and ready Soldiers to the nation.
"The joint use of the Reserve Center by both the Army Reserve and Army National Guard is a step forward in sharing resources between the Army's two reserve components and saving taxpayer dollars," Monk said.
Units that will call the Armed Forces Reserve Center home will include Dima's former unit, the 411th Engineer Brigade, which is currently preparing for its second rotation in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, 1156th Transportation Company and A Battery, 1st Battalion, 258th Field Artillery.
Monk explained that the building will now stand as a tangible reminder to those who serve their nation with dignity and honor. "Sergeant Dima gave his life defending a nation that he would never step foot in as a U.S. citizen, yet he never wavered from his commitment."