Friday, September 24, 2010

Army Pfc. Gebrah P. Noonan

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Gebrah P. Noonan, 26, of Watertown, Conn.

Pfc. Noonan was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.; died Sept. 24, 2010 in Fallujah, Iraq, of injuries sustained Sept. 23 in a non-combat-related incident. Also killed was Spc. John Carillo Jr.

Comments he wrote on his Facebook page within days of his death. He is listed on his FB page as being "widowed."

Gebrah Noonan You keep telling me I've got everything, you say I've got everything I want You keep telling me you're gonna help me, you're gonna help me, but you don't But now I'm in too deep. (September 20, 2010)

Gebrah Noonan Great rulers make for greater glory
The only thing growing is our history
Knock me down I'll get right back up again
I'll come back stronger than a powered up Pac-Man (September 16, 2010)

Gebrah Noonan I just can't get over losing you
So if I seem broken in two
Please walk on by, walk on by
Foolish pride is all that I have left
So let me hide (August 1, 2010)

Gebrah Noonan, an Army private who died Thursday in Iraq, loved good literature and Michael Jackson and had a sense of humor sharp enough to get him voted class clown at Watertown High School.

Noonan, 26, died Thursday in a non-combat incident in Fallujah, about a month after combat operations ended in Iraq. On Sunday, Gov. M. Jodi Rell ordered flags flown at half-staff to honor his memory.

His best friend, Patrick Jacques Jr., who had driven him to the airport to begin basic training about a year ago, remembers Noonan as a lively person as individual as his first name. "Most people knew him as the life of the party," Jacques said. "He never looked for someone to emulate or latch onto — he had his own followers."

Noonan, who would introduce himself as "Gebrah rhymes with zebra," loved reading and was partial to Jack Kerouac and was a big movie buff. He also loved soul music and had more than 4,000 songs on his iPod. On senior dress-up day, he went to school dressed as Michael Jackson.

"One of the best things we'll always remember was his sense of humor," Jacques said. "He had a quick wit. It all comes from his intelligence."

He was patriotic, decisive and a huge football fan, although he would never settle for just one team.

Noonan, who was known for wearing a large Afro in high school, graduated in 2002. He then spent a year at Manhattanville College, took a year off, then attended Fordham University for a year.

Noonan was the second Connecticut soldier to die in Iraq or Afghanistan in the past month. Army National Guard Sgt. Steven Deluzio of South Glastonbury was a member of the Vermont National Guard. He was killed Aug. 22 when insurgents attacked his unit in Afghanistan.

Before he left for Iraq, U.S. Army Pvt. 1st Class Gebrah Noonan put up four flags outside his Watertown home. Now the community is mourning the loss of the 26-year-old 2002 graduate of Watertown High School.

Family and friends described Noonan as a fun loving person who loved the Yankees. They say he would stand up for anyone. His loved ones say he took pride wearing the uniform. "He used his influence for good and really looked out for people," said his sister Shemmy Noonan.

Since learning of his death, flags across the town are were lowered to half-staff.

"It is very sad," said Richard DiFederico, VFW State Commander. "There's no coming back from it and what his family is going through, unless it happens to you it's hard to understand."

The town manager says this is the first soldier from Watertown who has died since both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars began.

"For a war that started out so personally for so many of us and now to have it right here and taken home to Watertown is very tragic," said town manager Chuck Frigon.

While the circumstances surrounding his death remain under investigation, family and friends say they want people to remember him for how he lived his life.

Governor Jodi Rell issued the following statement: "All of us are diminished by the death of this patriotic young man, who gave his life in the service of his country and in a mission to help others, yet all of us are the better because of his devoted service."

The family said they're grateful and overwhelmed by the support they've already received.

A procession of friends and neighbors somberly filed in and out of the family home of Army Pfc. Gebrah P. Noonan on Sunday to pay their respects to a man described as an American patriot.

On Noonan's quiet street in Watertown, tears mixed with laughter as stories of the man described as brilliant, funny, charismatic and open-minded were retold by loved-ones in the shade of the family's whitewashed front porch. Neighbors bearing flowers and baked goods filtered in and out of the home, shared a hug or two, and quietly slipped away.

Ling Noonan, Gebrah's mother, was calm and composed as she talked about her son, who she said joined the Army last October and deployed to Iraq in July.

Donna Gerl Whitlock wrote on Sep 27, 2010 4:57 AM: "Gebrah was always the Kid in the middle, always making everyone laugh, Just so truley sorry for the Entire Noonan Family. G-d bless you all. Our debt for his ultimate sacrafice can never be repaid. Bethlehem Loved him "

He leaves behind his parents, Ling and William, two brothers and a sister.

Army Pfc. Gebrah P. Noonan died 9/24/10 as a result of a non-combat related incident on 9/23/10.

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