|From The Fayetteville Observer FayObserver.com
Fallen Bragg soldiers remembered as 'dedicated'
A staff report
Two Fort Bragg paratroopers killed Sunday in a roadside bomb blast in Afghanistan were dedicated soldiers, according to a news release from the 82nd Airborne Division.
Sgt. James Nolen and Pfc. Marcus Tynes belonged to Company C, 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division.
Both died when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device while they were in a convoy in southern Afghanistan. The Department of Defense announced their deaths Tuesday.
Nolen, 25, of Alvin, Texas, joined the Army in February 2005 as an infantryman. He attended One Station Unit Training and Basic Airborne School at Fort Benning, Ga.
He reported to Fort Bragg in September 2005. Nolan served as a rifleman and completed a 15-month deployment with the 508th to Afghanistan in 2007. His second deployment to Afghanistan began this summer.
He is survived by his wife, Rachel Anne Nolen; his stepson, William Flathman; his father, Walter Nolen; and his mother, Kimberly Roberts.
"Sgt. Nolen was a true soldier," Nolen's fellow paratroopers from Company C said in the release. "Nothing could take away from his warm personality. His caring smile and willingness to help others were his most identifiable features."
Nolen's awards and decorations include a Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Basic Parachutist badge.
Tynes, 19, of Moreno Valley, Calif., joined the Army in July 2008 as an infantryman. He attended One Station Unit Training and Basic Airborne School at Fort Benning before reporting to Fort Bragg in January. He was assigned to his unit as a rifleman. He was serving in his first deployment to Afghanistan.
"Marcus was what a soldier in the Army should be," his fellow paratroopers of 2nd Platoon, Company C said in the release. "His motivation and determination in everything he did and said made the people standing around him proud to be serving."
Tynes' awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge and Basic Parachutist Badge.
He is survived by his mother and stepfather, Dana and Bruce Atlas; and his stepbrother, Johanas Atlas.
A memorial in their honor will be held in Afghanistan.
A reminder of others' sacrifice On holiday's eve, family receives body of Alvin soldier killed in battle SOLDIER: A grim holiday for loved ones
By PEGGY O'HARE HOUSTON CHRONICLE
Thu 11/26/2009 Houston Chronicle, Section A, Page 1, 3 STAR R.O. Edition
While many military families are sitting down today to give thanks and celebrate their loved ones' safe return from tours of duty overseas, an Alvin family is returning from a sad trip to Dover Air Force Base, where they somberly welcomed home their soldier's remains.
This is a painful Thanksgiving Day for the family of Sgt. James Michael Nolen, 25, an Alvin native killed in action Sunday when his military vehicle struck an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, where he had been deployed for the second time.
Nolen's body arrived Tuesday night at Dover Air Force Base, where his grieving family waited. His loved ones are now planning the funeral for the expectant father.
Nolen's death is a grim reminder of the 5,291 Americans who have been killed in the Afghan and Iraqi wars - as well as those still overseas this Thanksgiving, serving their country.
The dozens of American flags lining the front yard of Nolen's mother's home in Alvin, where he spent most of his childhood, are somber reminders as well.
"My hero is gone," his mother, Kim Roberts, 47, wrote on her fallen son's Face-book page early Monday, just hours after learning he had been killed.
One neighbor thought the American flags had been placed in Roberts' yard because the soldier was returning home from Afghanistan in time to celebrate the holidays with his family.
First anniversary near
Nolen, who was about to celebrate his first wedding anniversary next week, died with a fellow soldier in the explosion as they conducted a convoy in the Kandahar province, said the 82nd Airborne Division. Pfc. Marcus Tynes, 19, of Moreno Valley, Calif., also was killed in the explosion.
Both men were assigned to Company C of the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, N.C.
Nolen left for Afghanistan in August, hoping his second tour of duty would last only a year.
"He loved his job," said his wife, Rachel Anne Nolen, 26, of Parkton, N.C., speaking through family members Wednesday. "Being an infantryman was his dream job. That's all he ever wanted to do."
James Nolen's family learned of his death late Sunday. Two military officers stopped by his mother's home in Alvin around 11 p.m. to give her the news.
He was "a dedicated soldier and was looking forward to being a proud new dad," said family friend Christian Martin, who lives with Roberts.
"According to his mom, the events of 9/11" led him to join the military, Martin said.
Drivers cruised slowly past the Alvin home, and bystanders stopped to look at the dozens of flags lining the yard, placed there Wednesday by the Military Moms and Wives of Brazoria County.
Mary Moreno of Lake Jackson, who leads the group, counted James Nolen's death as the 14th Brazoria County-related fatality to occur as a result of the war.
"We didn't want to wait for (the family) to come back for these flags to be hung," said Moreno, of Lake Jackson. "We do it so everyone can know the ultimate sacrifice this hero has made."
Baby expected in May
While in Afghanistan, James Nolen learned his wife was pregnant with their first child, due in May. "Dude, I'm pregnant," he told a fellow soldier after learning the news by phone overseas.
He looked forward to his wife's weekly e-mails updating him on the progress of her pregnancy and eagerly waited for the moment during their phone calls she would let him listen to the baby's heartbeat, his family said.
He enlisted in the Army in February 2005 as an infantryman, military officials said. He attended training and basic airborne school in Fort Benning, Ga., before reporting to Fort Bragg in September 2005.
He completed his first 15-month deployment to Afghanistan in 2007, during which he served as a rifleman, military officials said. He married his wife in North Carolina on Dec. 1, and they made their home there.
During his service, James Nolen was honored with a Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Basic Parachutist Badge.
"Sgt. Nolen was a true soldier," said his fellow paratroopers from Company C in a statement released Wednesday. "Nothing could take away from his warm personality. His caring smile and willingness to help others were his most identifiable features."
He was a dedicated family man as well.
"He was the most amazing husband and father ever, because no matter what we had happening, he was always happy and smiling," Rachel Nolen said through other family members. She said she knew she would marry her husband the moment she met him and recalled how he would stand on a roof in Afghanistan to get a cell phone signal so he could call her.
"I miss your kisses," she had written on his Facebook page on the day of his death.
In addition to his wife and mother, James Nolen is survived by his 7-year-old stepson, William Flathmann; his father, Walter Nolen, 53, of Utah; and two brothers, Jeremy Nolen, 30, of Georgetown, and Jonathan Nolen, 22, of Alvin.
A memorial honoring both James Nolen and Tynes will be held in Afghanistan, military officials said.
|From The Houston Chronicle Archives chron.com
CASUALTY OF WAR Community honors a soldier Killed by an Afghan bomb, an Alvin man dedicated to country and family will never get to meet the unborn child he had nicknamed ‘Little Peanut.' FUNERAL: His platoon sends message
By PEGGY O'HARE HOUSTON CHRONICLE
Sat 12/05/2009 Houston Chronicle, Section B, Page 1, 3 STAR R.O. Edition
As a hearse prepared to carry Alvin soldier James Michael Nolen's coffin to the Houston National Cemetery, Patti Thaxton stood on a Friendswood roadside in the bitter cold and snow holding an American flag.
Thaxton, a military mom herself, does not know Nolen's family, but wanted to pay her respects to the 25-year-old sergeant and paratrooper killed in action in Afghanistan last week, just days before his first wedding anniversary. His wife is expected to give birth to their baby in May.
"He gave his life for our country and fought for our freedom," Thaxton said as tears streamed down her face. "Even if it's cold, it's the least we can do - to come out and just pay respects to the family."
Nolen was laid to rest Friday following a memorial service at Friendswood United Methodist Church, where family and friends recalled his mischievous ways, his selfless giving, his love of family and his excitement about the approaching birth of his baby nicknamed "Little Peanut."
The lifelong Alvin resident died Nov. 22 with a fellow soldier from California when their military vehicle hit a roadside bomb while conducting a convoy in Kandahar province, said the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division of Fort Bragg, N.C.
As Nolen's coffin, draped with the American flag, sat at the front of the church Friday, a bagpipe player opened the service with Amazing Grace. His wife, Rachel Nolen, 26, wearing military dog tags, walked down the church aisle crying and clutching the hand of her 7-year-old son, William Flathmann, who was dressed in military fatigues.
All of James Nolen's family members wore photos of him clipped to their shirts.
His sister-in-law, Rebecca Nolen, reading from a note written by Nolen's widow, told the crowd how Nolen reassured his wife when she worried during his second deployment overseas, which began in August.
"He would always tell me not to worry. What's a year when we have forever to spend together?" Rachel Nolen wrote. "I just wish forever wasn't so short. I miss him so much.
"He couldn't wait for our Little Peanut to come. He was so proud all he could do was talk about the baby and all the things we were going to do. He was so excited for February so he could come home and decorate the baby's room."
Nolen's wife recalled how he had always treated her son like his own and how Nolen had asked the boy for permission to marry her before getting down on a knee and proposing. Her written words described how Nolen bought fatigues and dog tags for the boy.
"The look on James' face the first time he saw Will all dressed up was priceless," Nolen's wife wrote.
U.S. Army Chaplain Larry McCarty of the 82nd Airborne Division described Nolen as a true warrior.
"We have in James an American hero who didn't just talk the talk - he walked the walk to the very end," McCarty said. "He lived the warrior ethos of ‘I will always put the mission first, I will never accept defeat, I will never quit and I will never leave a fallen comrade.'?"
Nolen's platoon in Afghanistan sent a message read aloud at Friday's service describing him as "a leader whose courage and combat instincts led his soldiers through multiple fights with the enemy."
The Brazoria County Cavalry gave Nolen's wife and parents three caps with his name and the words "American hero" printed on each of the hats. They also presented them with three Texas flags and three certificates of appreciation from the Texas House of Representatives. Fellow soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division then marched out of the church carrying his coffin.
Nolen is survived by his mother, Kim Roberts of Alvin; father, Scott Nolen of Utah; brothers, Jeremy Nolen of Georgetown and Jonathan Nolen of Alvin; and numerous other relatives.
Family lays Alvin soldier to rest
By John Tompkins
Published December 5, 2009
FRIENDSWOOD — Before Army Sgt. James Nolen left his pregnant wife and stepson to serve in Afghanistan, he prepared meals and froze them so they wouldn’t have to cook while he was gone.
Nolen loved his family and talked nonstop about the child he and his wife were expecting that they called “Little Peanut.” He would climb as high as he could to the top of buildings in Afghanistan to get a cell phone signal to call his family.
“Our house was always overflowing with love and happiness,” his wife, Rachel Anne, said in a letter read at his funeral Friday at Friendswood United Methodist Church.
“James was my soulmate. He was my love,” Rachel Nolen said in the letter read by James’ sister-in-law, Rebecca Nolen. “He was my best friend and my hero.”
Nolen, 25, of Alvin died Nov. 22 after an improvised bomb exploded next to his vehicle that was part of a convoy in Afghanistan’s Kandahar Province.
Among his survivors are his wife, who is four months pregnant; his stepson, William Flathmann; his father, Walter Nolen; his mother, Kimberly Roberts; and brothers, John Nolen and Jeremy Nolen.
He is the 14th Brazoria County service member to have died while serving in Afghanistan or Iraq.
Several uniformed military officials sat among the many family and friends who attended the service.
Police officers formed lines on both sides of the entrance to Friendswood United Methodist Church chapel, which was decorated for Christmas.
Throughout the service Friday morning, James Nolen’s mother had her arm around Rachel and 7-year-old William, who wore a small, Army uniform like that of his stepfather’s.
Soldiers carried James Nolen’s flag-draped coffin in a steady snow outside the church to a hearse. His body was taken to the Houston National Cemetery for burial.
Army Maj. Gen. Dan Allyn said James Nolen’s fellow 82nd Airborne Division soldiers will remember him as an inspiring leader and a proud native Texan who dearly loved his family.
“His family was everything,” Allyn said Friday. “You could not have a conversation with James without hearing in great detail about those he loved.”
James Nolen’s brother, Jeremy Nolen, has a 6-month old son, Jack. Jeremy read a letter to his young son Friday about the kind of person his uncle was.
James Nolen once threw a party when his parents were out of town. He had to be bailed out of jail right before his brother’s wedding, but a smiling Jeremy Nolen didn’t elaborate why. James Nolen also tried more than once to get a tattoo on his arm, only to get an infection, his brother said.
“You’ll hear all kinds of stories,” Jeremy said as the audience’s laughter filled the church.
Though he pulled a lot of stunts, his brother also welded a barbecue pit for Jeremy Nolen as a gift, and Jeremy Nolen also enlisted in the Army because he felt he had to serve his country.
“I hope you’ll become a good man though, like your uncle James,” Jeremy Nolen read.
Army Chaplain Larry McCarty told the fallen soldier’s family to treasure James Nolen’s life and the place he held in their hearts.
“Remember, remember, remember, the precious memories as a family,” McCarty said. “Nothing can take those away.”
Rachel said in her letter that her husband loved William as his own son and asked William’s permission to marry her. When James Nolen prepared to leave for Afghanistan a few months ago, William became upset because he didn’t know why his stepfather was leaving.
“He explained to Will on his level why he had to go,” Rebecca Nolen read.
Before James Nolen left for his deployment, he tried to calm his wife’s nerves, too.
“He said, ‘What’s a few months when we have forever together?’” Rebecca Nolen read. “I just wish forever wasn’t so short.”