ed and shirleyMUHLENBERG COUNTY, Ky. (11/11/17) — For a Muhlenberg County clan, patriotism has become a family tradition as a father and his six sons have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

The patriarch of the family joined the U.S. Marines at age 17 and said he considers his time served as a privilege and an honor. Enlisting in 1972 during the Vietnam War, Edward Nokes needed his father’s signature to sign up. After his four years were up, Sgt. Ed Nokes married his wife, Shirley, and started a family, which grew to six sons and a daughter.

Following in his father’s footsteps, the eldest son, Sgt. John Kelly Nokes, served in the U.S. Marines from 1993-1997 in diplomatic security at the U.S. Embassy in Brussels, Belgium and in Damascus, Syria.

nokes military picsFollowing his father’s and eldest brother’s footsteps, Sgt. Cory Lee Nokes joined the Marines in 1993 and served until 2002 as a combat engineer and military police.

Speaking with Ed and Shirley Nokes in Greenville recently, both said their boys joined the service because of a sense of honor and neither urged them to enlist. In fact, Shirley, admitted to trying to talk her boys into reconsidering before they joined because of her fear of possible harm that could befall them.

“I talked to each of them before they joined,” said Shirley. “I was afraid at times especially during war time. But their minds were made up.”

Staff Sgt. Kevin Matthew Nokes was the only of the six boys to join the U.S. Army instead of the Marines. He served as a combat instructor at Fort Polk, Louisiana and spent 28 months in combat in Iraq including the surge of Baghdad. He also spent 12 months of combat duty in Afghanistan.

GySgt. Daniel Keith Nokes is currently serving in Iraq. He has deployed to Iraq five times and once to Afghanistan in his nearly 14 years in the Marines. Daniel Nokes credits his wife, Tiffany, with holding the home front together for their three children during his times overseas.

He also believes his father, whom he considers to be a very humble man, to be the inspiration for his sons’ patriotism.

“My dad and brothers are extremely humble,” said Daniel Nokes via email from Iraq. “We were raised with a sense of duty, humility and patriotism. The fact that my dad had six sons and the fact that all are honest, productive members of society is remarkable. Serving is a family tradition.”

Cpl. Wesley A. Nokes was a rifleman during his tour with the Marines and saw combat in Helmand Province, Afghanistan in 2009 during Operation Khanjari.

The youngest, Sgt. Josh W. Nokes, spent the years 2008-2013 as an advanced aircraft communications/navigation technician in the Marines and was a part of the Helmand Province, Afghanistan March in November 2010.

Growing up with five older brothers serving in the military, Josh Nokes believed serving his country was a natural thing to do, he said.

“With all them being in the service, it just seemed like that is what you’re supposed to do,” said Josh Nokes.

While in Afghanistan, Josh missed the birth of his daughter, now 7 years old, and said he knew then he didn’t want to be a career serviceman. When he first met his daughter at the airport when he came home, she was 4 months old.

“I just don’t want to talk about that,” said Josh, whose heartstrings were obviously being pulled.

When his wife sent photos of their daughter to him via email while he was in Afghanistan, he found them very hard to look at because he didn’t know how much longer he would be away.

During her sons’ deployments overseas, Shirley kept tabs on them through what communication she received, in tracking them with maps of the regions they were in and constantly skimming the internet for any news of their units.

“When I’d hear of something affecting one of their units, I just had to wait because if someone was killed, there was a blackout of communication until that family was notified,” she said. “I would be praying for my sons while thinking, ‘It’s someone’s son though.’”

Ed said many people in Muhlenberg refer to them as “those people with all their sons in the military’. While the family has made many sacrifices through service, they count it as an honor, he said.

And, he knows without a doubt that if their country needed the Nokes boys, they would readily take up arms to defend it again including himself, he said.

Rita Dukes Smith
SurfKY News Director
Region 3 Vice President

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