A National Guard soldier killed in Iraq was lauded today as a “man’s man” with a sensitive side. The funeral for Sergeant First Class Scott Nisely was held at the Marshalltown church where he had played the drums in the congregation’s praise band, and the funeral began with over 20 minutes of song.
“When (Nisely) left for Iraq, he left one of his dog tags on the drum set and he asked that — I’ll just say it the way he said it — he asked that the service be rock and roll,” First Baptist minister Dick Sipe told the congregation just before the band played.
A couple of songs later, the band’s leader prayed that God would give Scott drum sticks in heaven. “God thank you for Scott. Thank you for calling him home ’cause it will be a blessing somehow, someway, someday,” he prayed. “Give us patience to wait to find that.”
A handfull of funeral-goers walked up to the open microphone at the service to speak about Nisely, a 48-year-old former Marine who re-enlisted in the Guard. “His smile was contagious. I don’t know how to explain to you how much we’ll miss his smile,” one friend said. Another friend talked about Nisely’s boundless energy. “He didn’t know the meaning of the word quit,” he said. “I think when they invented the Energizer Bunny, it was after him.”
Nisely’s wife, Geri, was wearing her husband’s dog tags as she addressed the congregation. “I guess my thoughts are for all of you especially (those who) are in marriages and relationships,” Geri said. “…I just want to say, I don’t care if you’ve been married five minutes or 50 years or whatever but just be there for each other because you don’t know when that special person will be gone.”
The couple married in 1982, and Geri lived through frequent deployments when her husband was a Marine and rose to the rank of Major — and then again when he signed on to be in the Guard. “This last year has really been the hardest deployment that I’ve ever done in my whole life and Scott’s been gone a lot out of our marriage,” Geri Nisely said. “He wrote back to me…and he would say…’It’s hard to sleep at night because I miss laying next to you and listening to you breathe.’…I felt the same way about him.”
Geri Nisely and her son, Justin, thanked those who have been supportive during the last week since news came that Nisely had been killed by gunfire from insurgents in Iraq. “You don’t realize how many people you touch in your life until something like this happens. My father was a great man. I knew he had friends, but oh, my gosh,” Justin Nisely said, as the congregation laughed.
Dick Sipe met Nisely ten years ago when he became the head pastor of Nisely’s church. “Scott was a real man’s man…and I’m talking heavy on the real,” Sipe said. “He had also had this balance about being a man because he was also sensitive.”
Sipe said the man who lifted weights and competed in martial arts and wore his military uniform with pride was also the man who held his wife’s hand in public and joined the church’s doll collector’s club with a bunch of little old ladies. Nisely had a G.I. Joe Collection, but Pastor Sipe said Nisely didn’t call them dolls — he called them “action figures” according to Sipe.