Marine Sgt. Justin Noyes, described as a robust young man who was fiercely dedicated to the service of the nation, was killed in Iraq, his family said Monday. Noyes, a demolitions expert who would have turned 24 on Aug. 8 2006, died Sunday while trying to disarm a bomb at Fallujah.
The family was notified of his death Sunday night.
“He was my rock whenever I was down,” said his mother, Stacey Noyes. “He’d always have me laughing at the end of a bad day.
“He was that kind of person. He grew up happy-go-lucky, a class clown who always found a way to make someone laugh,” his anguished mother said. “He was very caring and loving.”
Stacey Noyes said the last time she talked to her son was about 2 1/2 weeks ago. “He sounded so good, it made my whole world that day,” she said. “He said he would be home in September.”
Noyes played football and baseball in high school, his mother said, and described him as being highly dedicated to anything he undertook.
Because of the Fourth of July holiday, Mark Noyes, Justin Noyes’ father, said Monday that his family will probably still go to his niece’s house like they do almost every year.
“I believe that’s what he’d want us to do,” he said.
Mark Noyes said that idea came from Rachel Noyes, 15, Justin Noyes’ youngest sister.
“That’s what he would want us to do — because he fought for independence,” she said. Rachel Noyes added that she and her brother were extremely close. “He just meant the world to me. He’s the best thing that could have happened to me.”
Mark Noyes said he will remember his son for his good heart and great sense of humor.
“He was my hero,” he said.
Justin Noyes was with the Explosives Ordnance Company, 1st Marine Logistics Group of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force Forward based at Camp Fallujah.
His mother said military officials told her he was using a robot and had all his equipment on as he was trying to disarm an improvised explosive device.
There was another bomb nearby, and one of them blew up, his mother said. Noyes died around 8 p.m. Sunday, Iraq time.
His father received a call early Monday morning from his son’s team leader, who witnessed the explosion.
“He let me know that he didn’t suffer,” said Mark Noyes, who had talked to his son about five weeks earlier.
During that phone call, Noyes said his son had told him he was safe. A few weeks later, he felt bad about missing some of his son’s calls when he was at work.
“I got a cell phone last week just for that reason, so he could catch me at work,” he said, sobbing.
Vinita High School Principal Rusty Rankin was in disbelief Monday at news of Noyes’ death.
“I knew him very well,” Rankin said, noting that “he was absolutely one of my favorite students. “He was an outstanding young man, one of those young men you would want fighting for the United States because you knew he would get done what needed to be get done,” Rankin said.
“This is a tremendous loss for our community,” the principal said. “This really set me back. It really hits home when a fine young man like Justin sacrifices his life.”
Stacey Noyes said her son joined the Marines in 2000, the year he graduated high school. “He came home from school one day and said he joined the Marines,” she said, pointing out that recruiters had been at school that day.
“It killed me that he was doing that, but we supported him. “He was always comforting us, saying, ‘Don’t worry. I’ll be fine,’ ” his mother said.
She said Noyes and another son, Jeremy Norsworthy, were both in Iraq for the start of the war in 2003 and were there when Saddam Hussein’s statue came tumbling down.
Norsworthy has since returned and is living in Sapulpa with his wife and children, she said.
Justin Noyes, his mother said, remained in Iraq and was on his second tour of duty. He was last home in August 2005, she said.
Noyes was stationed in Okinawa, Japan, at the time of his deployment to Iraq. His wife, Sarah, of Connecticut, lives there and will be traveling to Vinita for his funeral.
Stacey Noyes said her son and Sarah met while he was undergoing training at North Carolina.
She said they were married on May 15, 2005, in Florida in a ceremony overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. She said her son was undergoing more training in Florida at the time.
The Department of Defense as of Monday evening had not yet released an official statement on Noyes’ death.
In addition to his wife and mother, Noyes is survived by his father and stepmother, Mark and Karen Noyes; brothers Jeremy Norsworthy and Chris Barnes; and sisters Hannah and Rachel Noyes.
A memorial fund has been established in Justin Noyes’ name at the First National Bank of Vinita.