Sunday, November 22, 2009

Army Sgt. James M. Nolen

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. James M. Nolen, 25, of Alvin, Texas

Sgt. Nolen was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Benning, Ga.; died Nov. 22, 2009 in Zabul province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device. Also killed was Pfc. Marcus A. Tynes.

ALVIN — Barbara Moore huddled in her jacket Wednesday afternoon as she waited along state Highway 6 to watch the escort for U.S. Army Sgt. James Nolen, who died Nov. 22 in Afghanistan.

“Staying in this is nothing compared to the conditions they have to put up with,” Moore said as she wiped tears from her eyes with her gloves. “The least we can do is come out to pay our respects to him.”

Darlene Morey remembered when James Nolen was about 5 years old.

Morey attended Sunday school with Nolen’s parents at First Baptist Church in Alvin.

“He was a normal, rambunctious boy,” Morey said. “I haven’t seen him since.”

Hundreds waited in the cold winds along Highway 6 and state Highway 35-B in Alvin as fire trucks, motorcycle riders and police escorted Nolen and his family to Scott Funeral Home.

Nolen, 25, of Alvin, died Nov. 22 after an improvised bomb exploded next to his vehicle that was part of a convoy. Pfc. Marcus A. Tynes, 19, of Moreno Valley, Calif., also died in the attack that took place in Afghanistan’s Kandahar Province.

Nolen is the 14th Brazoria County service member to have died while serving in Afghanistan or Iraq. Among his survivors are his wife, Rachel Anne Nolen, who is four months pregnant; his stepson, William Flathman; his father, Walter Nolen; his mother, Kimberly Roberts; and brothers, John and Jeremy.

Visitation is set for 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. today at Scott Funeral Home in Alvin. Nolen’s funeral is set for 10 a.m. Friday at Friendswood United Methodist Church, with burial to follow at Houston National Cemetery.

Some people waited in trucks, some stood along the roadway and others held flags as they paid tribute to the fallen soldier. People started lining the route along state Highway 35-B at the state Highway 35 Bypass, and the crowds grew thicker as the escort continued along state Highway 6 leading into Scott Funeral Home.

Bystanders talked while they waited, but hushed themselves quickly as the procession arrived. Some stood at attention and saluted as the hearse passed.

As the car carrying Nolen’s body pulled into the funeral home Wednesday, some of his relatives in the escort cried and waved at the people who showed up to welcome the fallen soldier home.

The greeting was moving, and Nolen’s family deeply appreciated it, family friend Christian Martin said.

“It was humbling, very very humbling,” he said.

Residents said they learned about the escort through social Web sites, e-mails and church groups.

Some Alvin High School football players stood along the highway in shorts waiting for Nolen’s remains to pass. A group of players got together and decided it was important to be there Wednesday, senior Dustin Moehlig said. So many decided to join in the tribute that coaches used a school bus to take them to the site.

“I’m just here thanking him for everything we have here,” Moehlig said. “I hope they see we’re thankful for what he’s done.”

Alvin resident Ann Blissit sat next to Moore before Nolen’s body was escorted down state Highway 6. Originally from England, Blissit said she remembers as a child sitting in bomb shelters as Nazi planes dropped bombs on London.

She appreciates the sacrifices American soldiers make, she said.

“I love this country, and I respect the young people who fight for it,” Blissit said.

State Rep. Randy Weber, R-Pearland, stood alone amid the participants Wednesday at the funeral home’s entrance.

“I wish I didn’t have to be here,” he said. “There’s really a sadness in your heart when you lose a soldier.”

Army Sgt. James M. Nolen was killed in action on 11/22/09.

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