Monday, August 30, 2010

Army 2nd Lt. Mark A. Noziska

Remember Our Heroes

Army 2nd Lt. Mark A. Noziska, 24, of Papillon, Neb.

2nd Lt. Noziska was assigned to 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.; died Aug. 30, 2010 in Malajat, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

24-year-old Army Second Lieutenant Mark Noziska of Papillion died during an IED explosion. He'd only been in Afghanistan a month. Now, his friends still trying to piece together what happened. "I think we're all living in a dream right now, just hoping we can wake up from this," said Andy LeBlanc, Noziska's friend.

At least 20 of Noziska's closest friends from high school got together to remember their fallen friend for an interview. All of them, struggling with the news of his death. LeBlanc got the call from Mark's dad.

"He said Mark was killed in Afghanistan," said LeBlanc, struggling to keep his composure. "You just go through a shock of you don't know what to say."

His friends remember the good times they had with Mark. "We all remember him and he was always in his speedo," laughed LeBlanc.

"He loved the Huskers," said Coby Greiner, Mark's friend. "If you were ever down, he was there with that big brother mentality and he would do anything for you," said LeBlanc.

Friends since high school, they say Mark was destined for the Army, vowing to join after September 11. He was only a sophomore in high school then. "He always said that he always wanted to die for his country in case he were to perish," said LeBlanc. "He definitely got what he asked for and I know he's happy now.

His friends remember the last time they talked to him. "I talked to him on the phone 4 to 5 days ago," LeBlanc said. All of them wishing for one more conversation to pass along these messages: "We love you. We miss you. You're home safe. We'll look after your family, because he loved them so much," chimed many of his friends.

Noziska's friends say he had also served in the National Guard for four years, and was named 2005 Soldier of the Year. He even inspired two of his friends to join the armed forces; one in the Army, the other the Marines, serving a tour in Iraq.

Noziska graduated from Papillion High School in 2004, went to Creighton University and graduated from University of Nebraska, Omaha, with a degree in Criminal Justice. His plan was to stay in the Army and work his way up to "General."

“Everything he did, he did for the military," his brother Troy said.

The 9-year-old nephew of a Nebraska soldier killed in Afghanistan wanted to know why his mother was crying, and why his family was leaving for Dover, Del., Wednesday morning. The 24-year-old soldier, who grew up in Grand Island and went to high school in Papillion, was about a month into his first overseas deployment. He was an excellent uncle, said his sister, Tracy Noziska. On Aug. 14, she gave birth to a baby boy her brother never got to meet. Her older son, Calvin, is the one with all the questions about what happened to his uncle.

Mark Noziska, the youngest of three siblings . . . graduated from Papillion-La Vista High School in 2004 and completed a criminal justice degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2008.

Army 2nd Lt. Mark A. Noziska was killed in action on 8/30/10.

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