By Susan Monteleone
SMALLWOOD June 3, 2005 Sgt. Catalin D. Dima was killed in Iraq just a few months ago, a situation his wife Florika never wanted to imagine.
But neither did she ever realize how much her small community would take her family under its wing in their moment of grief.
Sgt. Dima was killed serving the country and community he loved, which had recently become Smallwood, USA. The couple went through the financing, the paperwork and all the requirements to get a home. Dreams and future plans were made. but in the final stages of the purchase, Dima was shipped overseas.
He never lived in the house he and his wife purchased.
Florika, however, found out just how good a plan it had been.
On Memorial Day weekend, the Civic Association of Smallwood honored the memory of Sgt. Dima by presenting Florika and their three children John, Angela and Christian with a 3-year membership to the Smallwood Community Park and Recreation Center.
Civic Association President Bob Barrett stated, "We are a community organization and to see this small family be torn apart like this touched us all. We all got together and decided to give the family a membership to the recreational facility so they could swim, play and have fun. I did not know Catalin, but I have come to know his family, and they are strong and they will be okay. I am glad that we could do this for them today."
Barrett added, "I have to say that Mrs. Dima has truly inspired us all with her strength and commitment to her family. She has stayed strong, and we are all really proud of her."
Also at the ceremony was Sgt. Mike Cordero, who served with Dima in Iraq under the 420th Combat Engineer Division.
"The first time I met Catalin, we were friends. We would pull guard duty together, share our thoughts, train together, and he had a way to keep morale up with all of us. He always had a joke for us. I can remember we would find rundown boats in our spare time and fix them up because he loved boats so much. It is truly very fitting to honor him here today on Memorial Day weekend."
Also present at the ceremony was Sgt. Henry Chin-Hong, who served with Dima as well.
"I took many photos when we were in Iraq together, and there is a void in my life without Catalin. He talked always about Smallwood and the fishing and the peaceful surroundings. He had me moving here he loved the area and he wanted to raise his family here so much. It is fitting to honor him here today."
Florikas response was understandably brief: "It is overwhelming. I am very proud to live in such a wonderful community, and I cannot thank the people enough for everything they have done for my family."