Thursday, January 04, 2007

Kyle Nolen laid to rest

ENNIS — Residents holding American flags lined the streets in silent vigil Tuesday, paying tribute to a native son on his final voyage home.

As a cool January breeze filled the air, a horse drawn carriage carried a fallen sailor from Ennis to his final resting place as funeral services were held for navy corpsman Kyle Anthony Nolen, 21.

Nolen was killed in the line of duty in Iraq on Dec. 21, 2006. He and his family have been lifelong residents of Ennis and the standing room only crowd that gathered at the chapel remembered him as a kind and happy young man who always strived to go the next step and face the obstacles in his life.

“Kyle did not run from difficulties, he met them head on and tried to conquer them,” said Nolen’s uncle, Army Sgt. First Class Marty Moreno.

He went on to share with the crowd that Nolen had been offered a job that would have placed him in less danger, but he did not take the position because it would have meant leaving his fellow men behind.

Nolen’s dedication and loyalty to those around him was a common theme as members of his family and friends shared their memories of him with the community that had gathered to honor a fallen son.

Moreno stressed that Nolen was so dedicated to his wife and family that when other members of his unit were going out for entertainment, he could be found on the telephone with his wife Cassie, and the two would talk for hours.

“Members of his unit actually got him dressed and tied him up to take him out bowling, but when their attention was on the game and off of him, he slipped away from them. When they got back Kyle was on the phone with Cassie,” he said.

Navy Chaplain Barrett Craig reminded the crowd of the importance of the mission Nolen was on and how his death, while difficult to understand, wasn’t in vain.

“Kyle did something, he died in defense of the God-given freedoms we are all entitled to,” Craig said. “There is evil in this world that wishes to take those freedoms from us and from the people we are trying to help, if we give up at the sound of their first bullet, we’d be giving in to evil.”

U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, spoke and expressed how proud he was to be part of Nolen’s service, calling him “the best of the best” and saying that Nolen died doing what he wanted to do and what he had made a choice to do.

“He was there because he felt called to be there. He was a medic because he wanted a career in medicine to help ease pain and suffering,” the congressman said. “He made a choice to volunteer and protect the freedoms we all enjoy.”

Barton also said Nolen was among a very small group of volunteers as less than half of 1 percent of the people in the country volunteer for the military.

He went on to remind those in attendance that Nolen’s death marked the third military member from Ennis to be killed in the line of duty in recent years.

Timothy Lee Gauna was killed Oct. 12, 2000, aboard the USS Cole when suicide bombers attacked the ship while it was taking on fuel in the port of Yemen. Army Spec. Aaron P. Latimer was killed May 9, 2006 in Mosul, Iraq.

Since the war in Iraq began, there have been a total of five Ellis County residents killed in service to their country. Marine Capt. Lyle Gordon, of Midlothian, was killed Jan. 26, 2005, while piloting a CH-53 helicopter about 220 miles west of Baghdad. Army Sgt. Shawn Graham, 34, of Red Oak, was killed Sept. 25, 2005, in Balad, Iraq. Army Spec. Aaron Lee Preston, 29, of Midlothian, died Dec. 25, 2006, on a street in Baghdad.

“The War on Terror is not a joke, it is very real. We are believers of tolerance, religious freedoms etc., and the radical, militant Islamic fundamentalists are against everything we stand for. We are fighting a war worth fighting. Kyle’s death was a tragedy but it was for a cause worth defending,” Barton said.

Admiral Brian Brannman echoed Barton’s sentiments, calling Nolen “not just a cog in the wheel but a treasure of the nation,” as he presented Nolen’s Purple Heart medal to his wife Cassie.

Moreno expressed to the crowd how difficult it was for Nolen’s family to understand why he was killed but that they understood how important the decision to enlist was to him.

“It is hard for us to understand why Kyle was taken from us, but he really gave us all in this room the greatest gift anyone can give and his family supported his decisions,” Moreno said.

With a voice thick with emotion he added, “I would like to think that God chooses who he wants in heaven and I’m not sure if he has a navy, but I know that Kyle is in God’s army now.”

Nolen leaves behind his wife Cassie, children Ryan and Railey Nolen, and numerous other family and friends.

From the Daily Light

Related Link:
Kyle A. Nolen slain by sniper