GAYHEART: As you know, we're here to um-- talk about -- uh -- your experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. Um, I want to get a broader overview of your -- uh, your -- your brief childhood history prior to enlisting, and, uh, your experiences while in the Marine Corps. Um, as well as transitioning back to, uh, college. So, um -- so, uh, just tell me your name, how old you are, and, uh, and what, uh, what wars you -- uh -- you participated in.

NOBLE: Okay. My name's Nathan Noble. I'm 26 years old. And I fought in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

GAYHEART: Okay. Um, what do you stu-- are you at -- enrolled at the University of Kentucky?

NOBLE: I am. I'm enrolled at the University of Kentucky, and I'm currently studying, uh, social work at the undergraduate level.

GAYHEART: Um- where were you born? Where did you grow up?


NOBLE: Uh -- I was born in Lexington, Kentucky, and I grew up in, uh, Woodford -- Woodford County, in Versailles, Kentucky.

GAYHEART: What was, uh -- what was your childhood like, uh, before enlisting in the Marine Corps?

NOBLE: Um, I'd say my childhood was a fairly normal childhood. I kind of grew up, nice neighborhood in Woodford County. All-American family. Mother and father both, uh, schoolteachers. Uh if--older sister, younger sister. Um. Played a lotta sports. That's, uh -- and that's really about it.

GAYHEART: Were you the first member of your immediate family, or first person in your family to join the military?

NOBLE: Uh, as far as my immediate family. My -- my, uh, grandfather, fought in the Second World War. But my father, mother, neither one of my sisters, neither one of them served.

GAYHEART: You ever hear any stories about him?

NOBLE: Um, no. You know, what, I -- I never really heard any stories. 2:00I -- I, uh, hadn't really heard any stories up until about six months ago. And, uh, it's something my grandfather didn't even tell me. It was one of his friends.

GAYHEART: Really? Do you think they shared that with you because of --

NOBLE: Yeah. He's a -- uh -- he's a former Marine. He fought in World War Two and Korea. My -- my grandfather's friend did. And just, uh, shared with me some stories about my grandfather that, uh, you know, that he -- my grandfather never even told my Dad before.

GAYHEART: Did-- when you told your parents, or when you made the decision, uh, to enlist in the military, what were your parents' reaction?

NOBLE: Um -- I would say somewhat surprised, but not -- not really. It was something that -- you know, I had given a lot of thought to it, but hadn't been incredibly vocal about it. And, you know, one day in 3:00April of two thousand and two, I went to the recruiter's office for the Marines in Frankfort, Kentucky. And when I went to the recruiter's office, um, the recruiter -- uh--the recruiter'd actually never heard of me. I wasn't on any of the lists that he received from schools. So, he had a list of a couple hundred kids from Woodford County, but I wasn't on there. So, uh, I made his job pretty easy. I -- I walked in, he tried to give me a big spiel. I just said, "I want to sign up. Where can -- where can I sign up? How can I be in the infantry?"

GAYHEART: What was your -- what was your mother's reaction when you -- when you told her?

NOBLE: Well, she was -- like I said, she was -- she -- I -- I wouldn't even really use the term "shocked." But I guess it's--it's how any mother would react. You know, it's -- the -- the country -- the country is at war, at -- at that time, only with Afghanistan, or only in Afghanistan, with the Taliban and the Al Qaeda. But -- you know, 4:00she -- she was -- she was happy that I was doing something like that. But at the same time, you know, she still had a motherly reaction.

GAYHEART: And your father?

NOBLE: Um- didn't really say much. Just uh, quieter. Quiet about it, and just told me he was proud of me. So.

GAYHEART: Did -- did you enlist in response to the post-nine -- or, to the 9/11 attacks in New York? Is that one of your reasons?

NOBLE: Um, I would say that's one of the reasons, yes. I mean, obviously, I was a -- you know, I was a senior in high school, when, uh, the World Trade Centers were attacked on September 11th. And that -- that, for me, and, uh, for -- for many others, you know, my age, or of this generation, it's a day that, uh, a lot of -- or, almost 5:00everyone will remember, just like Pearl Harbor. You know. This is a day that will live in infamy, about -- talking about Pearl Harbor. Well, you know, I think September 11th, 2001, was the same thing for our generation. Um, I've always had a deep sense of patriotism. And, uh -- I think that's just a- that just comes from the type of upbringing that I had, where -- you know, my father's a very patriotic man. Grew up in a smaller town, you know, just a lot of good, red- blooded Americans.

GAYHEART: What -- did you enlist, when you went down to the recruiter's office, did you enlist with the intentions to go to Iraq or Afghanistan? Or to go to war? Or --

NOBLE: Yeah.


NOBLE: I did. I -- I thought that -- I kind of carried the mentality in 6:00there, you know, if you're -- if you're gonna do something, you know, why go halfway with it? If I'm -- if I'm gonna be a Marine, then I want to be a Marine in the infantry, and the time in the Marine Corps that I spend, I actually want to make a difference.

GAYHEART: Did -- why is that? Why -- why did you want to -- you know, some people enlist to go to do computer work. Some people enlist, ah, just to sit on base. Why did you want to be out on the front lines? Why did you want to fight for the country?

NOBLE: I believe it, uh -- I believe I kind of carried the mentality of an athlete into the Marine Corps. That -- well, the mentality, and -- and the fact that I was an athlete. You know, I thought that -- I thought that something like the infantry would be great for me, because 7:00it -- you know, I -- I had a chance to do a lot of physical fitness, and, uh, really prove myself there. And I -- I just never -- never really been one who liked to sit behind the computer, or liked to do administrative stuff, or anything else like that.

GAYHEART: Why -- why the Marines? Why not the Navy, why not the Army, why not the Coast Guard?

NOBLE: In all honesty, you know, I've, uh -- there's kind of this aura about the Marines, that, uh, you know, the Marines are the toughest and the baddest and everything. And, uh, I guess from the time I was a little kid, I was just always sold on that. You know.

GAYHEART: Where -- where did you pick up that notion?

NOBLE: Uh, I -- I don't know. Through -- through TV or through friends or family, or -- or what. But it's -- you know, you always hear -- you always hear people talk about the Marines. And when people talk about the Army and the Navy and the Air Force, their tone changes a little bit when they talk about the Marines.

GAYHEART: What bri--so, your, your -- why did you pick the Marines? I 8:00mean, just, was it --

NOBLE: That I wanted to do the hardest thing.

GAYHEART: The hardest thing.

NOBLE: What I -- what I thought at the time, and what I'd heard was the hardest thing. Go be a Marine in the infantry.

GAYHEART: What was your boot camp experience like?

NOBLE: Um, I had a fairly normal boot camp experience. I don't, uh -- in all honesty, I don't really remember a lot about boot camp. I used to hear a lot of guys that are really hung up about boot camp and their experiences there. And -- I had so many experiences after I got outta boot camp, that it all -- you know. It just didn't really -- it meant -- it meant a lot a me -- it meant a lot to me to become a Marine out of boot camp. But in boot camp, you're taught how to be a basic Marine.

GAYHEART: What was your occupation after -- after boot camp? What was 9:00your military occupation?

NOBLE: Um, I went to the School of Infantry. I was an oh-three eleven.

GAYHEART: Which is?

NOBLE: Which is just a basic infantry rifleman.

GAYHEART: What -- what's -- if you were to come up with a job description for the basic rifleman, or the infantryman, what would it be?

NOBLE: Um, I believe that, uh, the -- just kind of a -- a broad description of an oh-three eleven, it's a-- it's -- it's actually not what a lot of people think. Um, you know, there's this -- it's a common misconception that everyone in the Marine Corps -- because the Marines have a saying. "Everyone is a basic rifleman." And that's true, to some extent. But as a, uh, as an infantryman, you know, people think you just go out, and you just walk around. There's actually a lot that's involved with that. You know, tactics, techniques, procedures, learning how to, uh -- learning how to operate in an urban environment. Learning how to operate in a mountainous environment. Learning how to operate in a jungle. Um, how to -- how 10:00to employ a squad with a machine gun, or a grenadier. How to call in an air strike, um, if something happens. How do you report over the radio what happens? Um, you know. It -- it's -- it -- it's -- you know, how do you keep your head, in the most explosive situations? Because that's -- you know, that's what war is. It's controlled chaos. And as a, uh -- as a basic rifleman in the Marine Corps, what you have to be able to do is, you have to be able to put everything into slow motion when an explosive situation happens, to try to -- to try to keep everyone else around you alive.

GAYHEART: So, off the battlefield, what were your responsibilities as an 11:00oh-three eleven, or as a leader?

NOBLE: Training. It's, uh, it's the ultimate -- it's the ultimate test of "practice like you play." You know, you -- most, uh -- but not -- not -- not in this day and age. But, you know, uh, from the -- from the late seventies through -- you know, early two thousand, there were a lot of people in the Marine Corps who -- who'd spent twenty, twenty- five years in the Marine Corps, and all they ever did was train. And just go -- just go out to -- you know, go out to twenty nine Palms in California, and, uh, fire weapons on ranges, and do patrolling effects. Study -- you know, study knowledge about the M16, or the, uh, the nine millimeter pistol. Know about the max effective of ranges of mortars, 12:00of artillery. Um, everything like that. So, it's a -- you know, I -- I was in with a lotta -- I was in with a lotta guys that were in for twenty-plus years, and they always used to say, if you think that you understand everything about the job, then that's when you shouldn't be doing -- the job any more. Because you're -- you're constantly learning. There's constantly new things to learn about. So.

GAYHEART: Do you feel that you can take that type of intensity with your job and apply it to anything else?

NOBLE: I do. Um, I think that, uh, you can take -- you can take that type of knowledge, intensity, leadership, you know, whatever you want to call it -- you can -- you can apply it to absolutely anything. Whether it's working at McDonald's, or being a CEO of a corporation. You know, some of the -- some of the most basic things you learn as a -- as a Marine, just as far as responsibility, being on time, leading 13:00by example -- you know, not -- not letting -- not letting situations get the best of you. You know, always having that mentality that uh, if there's a problem, there is always an answer.

GAYHEART: Do you find yourself using that --

NOBLE: I do.

GAYHEART: -- on a day-to-day basis?

NOBLE: I do. I find --

GAYHEART: Give me an example of that.

NOBLE: It's some of the most ba--you know, being a, uh, being a college student now. I'm -- 26-year-old sophomore in college. Week of, uh, week of final exams or midterms. You know, you've got four or five finals, and -- I hear a lot of people talking -- talking about certain -- and I -- I know that they don't under -- they don't mean it in the literal sense. But, talking about how--how intense having four finals in a week is, and -- and how crazy it is, and how they feel like they're gonna die, and they're overwhelmed, and everything. And that's one of those times where you can just -- where you just look at it, and 14:00you can smile, and you can kind of reach back and say, you know, "When I was 18, 19 years old, I was hiking up a mountain and getting shot at. So, I think I'll be all right studying for a test."

GAYHEART: Right. Where, after boot camp -- let's go back to boot camp and talk about where you went after your, uh, after your occupations school. Where were you stationed?

NOBLE: In Hawaii.

GAYHEART: And what unit did you get attached to?

NOBLE: Third Battalion, Third Marines.

GAYHEART: Was-- what was Third Battalion Third Marines? What was their specialty? What did they do?

NOBLE: Uh, Third Battalion Third Marines, was an infantry battalion. Um, there are three infantry battalions in Hawaii that, uh, make up Third Marine Regiment. It's, uh, First Battalion Third Marines, Second Battalion Third Marines, and Third Battalion Third Marines.

GAYHEART: And when -- when you got to the unit, and you got settled in, 15:00what was that like?

NOBLE: Um-- (laughs) --I don't know. In the -- I -- I hear that, uh, a lot of people's experience as a new guy in the Marine Corps is a lot different than, uh, a lot of people's experience in the infantry. It's a, uh--it's a -- it's a very fast-paced, you know, kind of up in your face, somebody's constantly watching you and messing with you twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. I mean, just -- you know, it's not a, uh -- it's not like a -- not like a nine to five job, where you go home. You know, you -- you live with these people. And it, uh, what they -- what they -- they call it hazing. And I think in the infantry, it's taken -- kind of taken to an extreme.

GAYHEART: Do you have an example of --

NOBLE: I probably shouldn't say anything.

GAYHEART: Go ahead.

NOBLE: I mean, really?


NOBLE: All right. I, uh -- the first night I arrived in my barracks 16:00in Hawaii, um, there was a -- it's called -- a Senior Marine is -- you know, obviously someone who's been there longer than you. And so, uh, one of the Senior Marines came in my room. And, uh, he wanted to wrestle me, so he attacked me. You know, I -- you know, I -- I wrestled growing up, so I choked him out. And then he left, and about five minutes later, two other Marines came in. You know, I fought them off for a little while. Then another one came in. There ended up being five senior Marines in my room. And I got -- I got beat up so bad I pissed blood for, like, a week. For absolutely no reason whatsoever.

GAYHEART: Did -- did you take anything away from that?

NOBLE: No, I didn't. I took nothing away from that. It, uh -- you know, I -- I think that -- I think that hazing is good, if it's used properly. And when -- when I say, you know, I -- I know people may 17:00say there's -- there's no such thing as good hazing. But, as a -- as a new Marine coming into the infantry, you know, it doesn't -- it doesn't matter how smart you are, or how -- how quick you pick things up. I mean, there's a lot to learn, that you just don't automatically know. And -- you know, that -- that respect is not something that's just automatically given. It's something -- you know, it sounds like a Marine Corps rec--recruiting commercial, but it's something that's earned. You earn the respect of your peers. You know, it doesn't -- it doesn't matter, if you're coming from another unit, and you're a sergeant or something, you know, everywhere that you go in the Marine Corps, you -- you have to earn everyone's respect.

GAYHEART: Do you think you earned their respect?

NOBLE: I do. I do.

GAYHEART: Did they act different after? You know, the next day? Was there -- did they look at you different?

NOBLE: Well, they didn't come to my room and try to beat me up any more.

GAYHEART: (laughs.) Well, you know, beyond that, um, the day-to-day, 18:00um, living of being in active duty, did -- did you initially, when you first got to your unit, did you want to stay in the military or the Marines for life?

NOBLE: I did. I think that's a, uh -- that's the mentality of a lotta guys who are first joining. You know, you get a-- you get so wrapped up around being a Marine, and all the -- you know, all the things that being a Marine entails. But I don't think you really get to experience the Marine Corps until you enter the Fleet Marine Force. You know, as -- the boot camp, you're -- you're learning how to be a basic Marine. You know, your -- your occupation school, you're learning how to be that specific kind of Marine. And then in the Fleet Marine Force, that's when you're expected to be that Marine.

GAYHEART: All right. Did -- what changed your mind?

NOBLE: Um --

GAYHEART: About staying in?


NOBLE: Four years, three months, three deployments. Not -- not living in one spot for more than seven months at a time. Coming home on -- on leave ten days a year. Not really having any type of schedule that -- you know, I mean, of course, everything in the Marine Corps in the military is very, very structured. But, you know, I'm -- my -- my leave schedule, you know, sometimes -- if you're on deployment, it doesn't matter if it's two in the morning or two in the afternoon. You know, you don't -- you don't really set a schedule. It's not like I'm gonna be an accountant -- you know, I'm gonna wake up Monday through Friday, 7:00, be in work by 8:30, be gone by 4:30. You know, it's -- it's definitely not like that. It -- it re--information is ever- changing. So, one minute, you could be -- going to Africa. Ten minutes 20:00later, you could be going to Haiti.

GAYHEART: Do you remember a point in which you said, "This is it. I'm done?"

NOBLE: Um, probably right before I went to Iraq last time as a Marine. You know, I had, uh, I had already been on two deployments. And I had the option to not go on another deployment. But I decided to extend my contract with the Marines to go back to Iraq with Third Battalion Third Marines. And uh-- I think that -- that was the point where I was saying, "I want to do my job. You know, I want to do it to the best of my ability. I want to bring everyone home alive. But I'm -- you know, I'm tired." And I don't think a lot of people understand that, uh, the 21:00toll that that takes on someone. You know, you're -- you're twenty one years old in the Marine Corps, in the infantry, and you're considered old.


NOBLE: You know. And I know people -- people look at that and say, "Wait, you're twenty one." But, you know, you could -- when you're twenty one years old and you've been in the Marines since you're eighteen -- you know, people -- people look at you for advice, to say -- say, you know, "Hey, this guy's been around the block. This guy's seen some things."

GAYHEART: Right. Did -- what was -- your first time going overseas, um whether it was Iraq or Afghanistan. How did you find out? How did you find out that you were going over?

NOBLE: Well, it was actually, uh, not long after I'd entered the, uh, the Fleet Marine Force. It was -- I think it was a Saturday or Sunday. 22:00Um, we weren't working. Our commanding officer came into the common area of the barracks we all lived in, all the enlisted men, and, uh, you know, just yelled for everybody who was in the barracks to come out of the room. The announcement said that, uh, we would be deploying on the USS Essex, in two months time. And that we needed to get ready. And I don't--I don't really know what you do from there, when you've been in the Marine Corps for less than a year, and somebody says you need to get ready to go to -- go on a deployment. I guess -- you know, just waited for everybody else to do stuff.

GAYHEART: So, you guys basically knew at the point where you were getting on the Essex that you were going over to Iraq.

NOBLE: Uh-huh.

GAYHEART: What'd you think about?


NOBLE: Uh, nothing. Nothing. Uh, I thought -- that -- that's wrong. I thought about a lotta things. But -- you know, as a -- as a Marine, you -- you train so long and so hard to do these things, that it's almost like it's muscle memory. People say -- Marines are brainwashed. And I think that's true, to a certain extent. But I don't think it's -- I don't think you're brainwashed as a Marine not to -- not to think for yourself, and not to speak out about things. I think that you're brainwashed in the sense that -- and this is -- this is kind of corny, and I -- I don't always like it when people reference this. But, you'd jump on a grenade for another -- for a Marine. Or somebody you don't even know. Because that's -- that's what's -- that's what's imbedded into you. Is -- you know, selfless action.

GAYHEART: Do -- do you think that -- you know, did anybody else speak 24:00up? Or, did anybody else object?

NOBLE: No. I mean, it's a --

GAYHEART: Everybody just kind of went?

NOBLE: You know, and of course there's always gonna be people that are conscientious objectors, and things like that. But this isn't--you know, there -- there is no draft. Our -- our military service is solely voluntary. You know. And some people may argue that it -- it's -- a lot of people -- or, not a lot. Some people use it as -- as a diversion program, for jail time. But -- you know, our -- our -- our military is solely voluntary. You know, nobody is forcing you to do anything. Nobody -- nobody made you go to the recruiting office. Nobody made you go raise your right hand and say -- you know, "I'll protect this country against all enemies, foreign and domestic."

GAYHEART: So -- so, you know, when you would go to bed at night prior to deploying, did anything run through your head? Did you -- did you 25:00foresee events, or try to -- ah, you know, imagine how you would be in a certain situation? Did you ever think about, you know --

NOBLE: Well, yeah. I mean, of course, you know, you -- there's a -- I think that's one of the biggest things that you do as a Marine. Um, especially in the infantry, or any type -- any type of combat arms. You just play scenarios over and over in your head. And you -- and you think to yourself, "How am I gonna react to this situation?" Because, you know, any -- anybody can say they'll react a certain way. But when -- when bullets start flying, you know, that's -- that's when the true colors of a person come out. That's when that -- you know, that's when that person's character is tested. And that's -- you know, that's where you -- that's where you separate people. You know. And that's -- I -- I -- I saw a lot of Marines that had been in the Marine Corps for -- you know, ten, twelve years, just in firefights not react, 26:00like, you'd think that this person who puts on this persona would act. You know, and I saw other guys who'd been in the Marine Corps for ten, twelve, fifteen years, that are the epitome of a Marine. If you were -- if you were to -- if you were to write down how someone should act in a combat situation, they'd fit that to a tee.

GAYHEART: How do you think somebody should act in a combat situation?

NOBLE: I think the most important thing in a combat situation is to keep your head. 'Cause -- you know, like I said earlier, it's -- it's controlled chaos. That's what -- that's all war is, is controlled chaos. So, if you're patrolling around streets of a city or mountains, and you're patrolling around, and -- you know, there's a seventy-five, eighty percent chance that you're gonna be ambushed -- you know, you need to -- when you're ambushed, and when you least expect it, you need 27:00to keep a clear head and make sure that you're not doing anything to put your guys in any more harm or danger than they are already. Because, I mean, it -- it -- it -- it's a firefight. It's an improvised explosive device. It's a -- you know, indirect fire mortar attack. You know, I mean, there -- there -- obviously there are going to be casualties. But, what can you do to prevent there being casualties that are unneeded? You know, the -- the smallest things, w--you know, can -- can you -- can you get behind cover? Can you make sure that you're not telling -- you know, a fire team of four Marines to run down the middle of a street exposed to enemy fire, when they could go through a back alleyway five feet away from the main street and still see everything that they can see, and still effectively engage the enemy? You know, those are -- those are things that I don't think are always taken into consideration. And a lot of people get tunnel vision. They hear the 28:00snap of a round. You know, an explosion from an improvised explosive device. And it just -- you know, they just -- people just kind of flip out. And I think that's really what separates a good leader.

GAYHEART: When you hear the snap of a round, or a -- an explosion of a bomb, how do you react?

NOBLE: You know, I -- a -- a friend of mine, David Parkinson, told me something that, uh, someone had told him. And David and I came to the Marines at the same time, went on every deployment together. But, uh, someone from Third Battalion Sixth Marines had told him, another squad leader, that when the first round comes at you, or there's an explosion or something, that you try to play everything in slow motion. And -- it, it sounds crazy. But, the first -- the first time I got in a 29:00firefight, that's exactly what I did. I tried to put everything in slow motion. And it uh -- it -- it really works.

GAYHEART: When you went to Iraq for the first time, what was your unit task out to do? What was your predetermined mission over there?

NOBLE: To, uh -- to p--to push for the country of Iraq.

GAYHEART: Di--when you went over there, did any of the missions or the objectives change?

NOBLE: Yeah. It -- it's -- it's an ever-changing -- I mean, the -- ultimately, you know, ultimately, the -- the -- the large objective was to occupy the country of Iraq, get Saddam Hussein out of power, 30:00abolish the Ba'ath Party, and create a stable government. Now, the -- as far as -- you know, creating a stable government and everything, you know, we went from -- you know, we -- we won the war in Iraq in three days. But we became something that we'd never been before. And that was an occupation force. You know, Marines, you -- you just drop 'em in a combat zone and let 'em go until they -- until they -- you know, come to a wall that they can't blow up. But then the Marines became an occupation force. And it, uh, the mission changed 'cause there's no clear, decisive enemy. You know, there's nothing -- there's nothing out there to distinguish to say, you know, "You have on this type of uniform, I have on this type of uniform. Let's fight." It's -- you 31:00know, you go patrol around. Somebody tries to blow you up, take some pop shots at you. And looks just like everyone else.

GAYHEART: What -- what -- what was that feeling like, to go out and not know what your enemy looks like? What -- is it a paranoia -- paranoid feeling, or --

NOBLE: I -- y--somewhat. I mean, it's -- it's really one of the -- you have to put yourself in a different mindset. You have to expect that, because if you don't expect that, you know, you'll -- you'll go crazy the first week of deployment. You know, you have to -- you have to -- you have to build yourself up and say, you know, "I know that when someone shoots at me, or if someone detonates a roadside bomb, that there's a good chance that I'm not gonna be able to identify who that person is," if they're standing ten feet away from me.

GAYHEART: Did you all have any rules of engagement that inhibited or limited --


NOBLE: Yeah. The rules of engagement really hamstring, um, all members of the Armed Forces fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. You know? I mean, it -- shit. I -- that's -- you know, that's another thing about being a -- a leader of a Marine Corps Infantry squad. Is, uh, you know, if you don't -- if you don't know what you're talking about, you know, you can't--you can't -- you can't BS a lawyer. You know, you have to know exactly what you're doing, what times you're doing it, if you're doing it at the right time. If you're using the proper amount of force. Um, you know, exactly how many rounds were fired, where you took fire from, where you returned fire to.

GAYHEART: Do you think that's unfair, to expect that level of awareness for a Marine or a soldier, or somebody that's in a situation like that? 33:00For them to recall, and for them to be that controlled?

NOBLE: I think, uh, I think in some cases it -- it is, and some cases it isn't. You know, if there's a, uh -- say there's a guy sitting on top of a roof, watches a Marine Corps -- or, watches an infantry patrol come by. Pops off a couple rounds. Just a couple -- just a couple shots, four, five shots, at the patrol. And then -- runs away. I don't think that you call in an air strike on every house around you. But, if you're -- you're in a legitimate firefight -- you know, you're -- you're being shot at from multiple positions by multiple enemy -- then -- then, yeah. I think that you need to be more aggressive. And I think the fact that -- you know, an hour after the firefight, 34:00you're back at your patrol base, or wherever, and you have to write a -- a sworn statement about that, saying that, "I fired 132 rounds -- you know, at this building. And then fired at this building," and everything. I -- I don't think that -- you know, I think that -- that's part of war. That -- yeah. I mean, you know, I could -- I can say -- I can say with a whole heart that I don't think that there -- many people who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, that -- you know, didn't -- didn't care more about the pe--or -- you know, that cared more about the people than I did. You know, I -- I -- I always used to try to make decisions, I'd see little kids in the street, and I'd think, you know, that's my little cousin. That's my little sister. You know, I'd see a little boy playing. You know, I -- I grew up in a -- a neighborhood in Kentucky, like -- you know, what -- I -- I know what like -- this is like for me at the time. But I couldn't 35:00imagine growing up in a world like that. And so, I, you know -- yeah, we kicked in a lotta doors, and -- you know, we detained a lot of insurgents. But just always tried to explain to the people that -- you know, I didn't want to be here. I didn't want to be here anymore than they wanted me to be here. But -- you know, because -- because Saddam was doing what he was doing, and trying to genocide a large portion of the country, that -- you know, that that's why I was there.

GAYHEART: Did -- did you see any of your other fellow Marines not have that kind of care for the locals, or --

NOBLE: Yeah -- some. I mean, it's -- it's human nature. It's just, the Marines -- Marines are people, you know? You -- you -- you do another 36:00job. You do a lot of selfless service. But at the end of the day, Marines are still people. And -- you know, people come from all walks of life. That's why -- you know, that's what -- that's what makes this country and this world what it is. Is, people have different opinions. People have different views, you know. And I've seen a lot of people who could care less about Iraq. But they still did the job to the best of their ability. You know, I -- and I think that I had a -- I had a deeper sense of purpose in Iraq than a lot -- and Afghanistan than a lot of people do. But -- you know, not to say that they didn't do it -- do it the right way all the time.

GAYHEART: Did -- did you feel as though, prior to going over, you know, on any incidents that you had adequate training?

NOBLE: I did. I -- I thought that -- I thought that I had adequate training. You can never have enough training to go to combat. And 37:00there is no training for combat except for combat. Um, but -- yeah. I felt like I had adequate training. I learned -- I was -- I was a basic infantryman in the Marine, a basic rifleman. I knew all the fundamentals of patrolling, I knew how to use my weapon. I knew max effect -- max effective ranges of weapons. I knew how to assemble and disassemble -- you know, most all weapons. And that's why -- you know, that's why there's a chain of command. Because someone in my position, who hadn't been in the Marine Corps for even a year shouldn't be in charge of twelve other Marines in a combat zone. It's like anything. It -- y--you're just learning. You're learning from others. You're 38:00learning from people who lead by example.

GAYHEART: Did -- did you feel that you had adequate cultural training?


GAYHEART: Was it a culture shock for you or your -- your peers?

NOBLE: Yeah. I mean, it's a -- you know, you go from living -- living in Kentucky your entire life to living in Hawaii, and going to all these third world countries. And seeing -- you know, seeing that this really does exist, it's not just like a UNICEF commercial on TV. I know that sounds--you know, I know that sounds pretty heartless. But I think that's -- you know, being on both sides of the spectrum, I think that's really what it is to a lot of people. You know, they -- I see -- I see a lot of people that generally want to help right now in Haiti. But -- you know, I don't -- I don't think they even understand what they're -- what they're donating money to. You know?


GAYHEART: Do you think that people general -- in general, uh -- don't understand the wars, or forget very easily about the wars, with the -- with the flip of a channel?

NOBLE: Yeah. Oh, yeah. I think it's -- you know. It's a -- it's a TV dinner generation. You know, if we can't -- if it can't be done in thirty minutes, then -- you know, it may be -- it may be the -- may be the biggest thing in the world for about a week. You know, after September 11th, you know, you -- you drive down a row of houses, and maybe there's ten houses, all ten of them have flags. You go three months later -- you know, seven of 'em have flags. You go six months later, you know, four of 'em. And by a year, you know, maybe one of 'em has a flag. Because that's -- it was -- you know, that was cool, to be patriotic right then. You know? It -- these guys attacked--you 40:00know, America's sovereign soil. And so people said -- you know, a lot of people got together -- "I'm patriotic. I'm real patriotic," you know. But then -- but then what we forget so easily is that the reason that -- the reason that the fight is not still here is 'cause we took the fight 12,000 miles away across the world. So, we don't -- we don't directly see what's going on, on a daily basis. Because of the men and women that are in harm's way today.

GAYHEART: Do you feel that you had a cer--a better sense of motivation with America behind you, in the first tour?

NOBLE: No. I mean, I think America -- I think America's been behind the troops the entire time. I think, uh--(coughs)--excuse me. I 41:00think that a lot of Americans have changed the way that they feel about the war, in our -- in Iraq. But I think that they still support the troops. You know, I work with a lotta guys that are Vietnam veterans. And -- you know, the majority of the population didn't support the war in Vietnam, and they didn't support the guys who were sent to Vietnam to fight the war. You know, and I think there's a -- I think there's a huge difference between supporting a war and supporting -- you know, the men and women and the troops that fight it.

GAYHEART: Well, prior to going over, did you know of anybody that was killed or hurt?

NOBLE: Um, no.


GAYHEART: You didn't?


GAYHEART: So, did that -- do you think if you had have of known somebody personally that was killed, do you think that would give you any more hesitation or --

NOBLE: No. I mean, it's a -- like I said, it's a -- you know, it's a -- it's a job. If you go to culinary school and you become a cook, don't be surprised. You know? If -- if -- if you get a -- uh -- if you get a degree in ch--in teaching, and you become a teacher, you know, that's -- if you join up for the Marines and you sign up for the infantry and you go to war, you know, you're -- you're doing what you signed up for.

GAYHEART: Did, uh -- tell me about the first mission that you ever went on in a combat zone.

NOBLE: Um--just, not so much scared or nervous. It's just the -- the 43:00unexpected. I mean, you have absolutely no idea what to expect. You know? You're -- you're walking around, and you're looking at every little thing. You know, you're doing exactly what you should be. But the -- the test is never the first patrol. It's -- you know, you're -- you're seven and a half months later. You've done 300 patrols. You've walked the exact same streets over and over and over again. Real test is, can you maintain that same vigilance and sense of awareness, and -- you know, heightened sense of security, in -- in month seven and a half, when it's 138 degrees outside? You know. Can you -- can you still look down an alleyway that someone might shoot at you from? Can you -- can 44:00you still look down that, and look down at the entire time that you're taking a knee, to make sure that the other guys in your squad don't get shot? That's -- that's a real test. -- (clears throat).

GAYHEART: (coughs) Excuse me. What, on that first point, if you can recall, what was the most intense mission you went on?


GAYHEART: Tell me, exactly what happened.

NOBLE: Well, probably the -- the -- I'd say the most intense mission I went on was where two other Marines were killed. Um, just -- it was 45:00regular patrol, they were shot by small arms fire. We were ambushed by AK-47s, RPGs, RPKs, PKCs. And, uh -- you know. Two guys -- two guys that were alive for twenty-somethin' years were no longer alive.

GAYHEART: Did you see it?

NOBLE: Yeah. And it, uh -- I don't know. I -- I don't really know how to feel about it. I -- you know, I found by -- by the end of my third deployment, I found myself, uh, just a -- just a solid -- just a solid wall, with no emotion. You know. Just straight-faced all the time. 46:00You know, don't show anyth--don't show anybody that anything gets to you. You know, if somebody dies, somebody dies. That's it. You know, you gotta push on with the mission.

GAYHEART: What -- so, when you saw the -- the first two Marines were killed when you were on patrol, you know you said you hardened up after the first or second -- or, after the second or third tour. What emotions did you -- you know, what did you feel? What -- what were you -- what were you thinking? Like -- you know, when you went back to base, and, you know, you reflected on the -- on the moment.

NOBLE: I guess just -- you know -- yeah, I know it's w--I know it's this way with a lotta guys. But, just that it didn't -- I could -- I couldn't feel anything. Nothing. Because you per--you -- you try to 47:00prepare yourself for that. You know. I think it's a little different than -- you know, if you're -- if you're in the infantry, and you're in -- you're in all-out combat, then if -- you know, someone's driving down the road and gets hit head-on, and is thirty years old, you know, completely unexpected.


NOBLE: But -- I mean, this is -- it's a calculated risk.

GAYHEART: Yeah. Well, flip the coin. What's the funnest mission you ever went on?

NOBLE: Uh, the funnest mission I ever went on, um--Tijuana.

GAYHEART: Tijuana.

NOBLE: Yeah. It was either Tijuana or Hong Kong. But --

GAYHEART: Is that --

NOBLE: Maybe Australia.

GAYHEART: Is that vacation?

NOBLE: No, it's just -- when I was on ship, we went to Hong Kong and Australia and a bunch of other places, just to -- you know, hit -- hit 48:00there, as a liberty port. No, the -- the -- the funnest mission I, uh- -I think the mission that I had the most fun on was the first time that, uh, I got to call in an air strike, when I, uh--I actually got to do my job. You know, that's -- I was very fortunate in -- from September of 2002 until J--or, December of 2006, I got to be a Marine the entire time. I mean, I -- I trained -- you know, I trained 'til I couldn't train any more. But I actually got to take action on all this training that I was doing.

GAYHEART: Did -- so, you went to Afghanistan, Iraq, in what order? Explain to me the -- the deployments that you went on.

NOBLE: Well, that first deployment was in -- March, 2003. That was 49:00on the USS Essex. And, uh, we left from Hawaii. We were in Okinawa, Japan, for about a month. The Essex left out of, uh, Okinawa, White's Beach. Um, the, uh -- it's a -- um, the, uh--it's a, uh -- they call it a small deck aircraft carrier. Um, it -- it's actually called a Gator Freighter, with the, uh, the bow, or the nose of the -- the ship opens up, and they can let out hoverclaft--hovercrafts and landing crafts. But the, uh, the reason it's called a small deck is, uh, only helicopters and Harriers, the planes that can hover, to land, and hover to take off -- those are the only ones that fly off there. So, an F18, an F16, something like that, couldn't fly off of one of these. But, uh -- so it was on. And there were about, uh -- there were about 300 of us Marines that lived on the ship, down in the very bottom of the ship. 50:00And what we called the birthing area. Just a bunch of --

GAYHEART: Is that like -- what's it like in the birthing area?

NOBLE: It's a bunch of sweaty guys living a couple inches away from each other. Just a -- it's a big cesspool of testosterone.

GAYHEART: Is it, uh--you gotta really be good friends, or trust?

NOBLE: You just get in a lotta fights, is actually what happens.


NOBLE: Because, I mean, it's -- it's like a bunch of brothers. It's like a bunch of brothers, and you ground all of them to the exact same room for a month. There's gonna be knockdown, drag out fistfights.

GAYHEART: Uh, so your second tour was?

NOBLE: Afghanistan. In November of 2004, 'til, uh, July or June, the very end of June of 2005.

GAYHEART: And what base were you at over there?

NOBLE: Uh, I started out at Asadabad, which is, uh, it's in the Kunar 51:00Province, up in the Hindu Kush Mountains, in the northeastern portion of Afghanistan. I stayed out -- I was actually -- I didn't spend a lot of time there, but I was outta there for about a month. And then, uh, we moved to, uh, Camp Blessing, which as the crow flies -- you know, straight over the mountains, is only about ten miles. But by vehicle, it's about a three, four-hour vehicle ride through the mountain passes. So, um, it was, uh -- at that time, it was the most forward-deployed base in the world. And I guess that -- that -- what that means, in a nutshell, is that, uh, it was a -- a tiny, tiny base, with about seventy of us out in the middle of the mountains, with no support.

GAYHEART: Was that -- was that -- you know, what was that like, to --


NOBLE: It was a blast.


NOBLE: Like I said, it was another one of those times where you got to be a Marine. Got to be a Marine in the infantry, you know? You -- you know what I mean, that -- it was it. You were -- you were by yourself. If you messed up, you messed up and bad things happened. So, lot of -- a lot of responsibility.

GAYHEART: What were the missions like over there? What were the people like over there?

NOBLE: Uh, people -- very receptive. Um, unless you went to certain places, where you knew that most of the village was Al Qaeda or Taliban. I know -- I remember sometimes we'd be hiking through the mountains, and come across a village. And there would be no military- age males in the entire village. But, you know, there -- the wives and the -- the grandmothers and grandfathers and the village elders. There 53:00would be no military-age males, 'cause they would know that we were coming, so they would, uh -- they'd get outta there.

GAYHEART: What was, uh -- what was the typical mission like over in Afghanistan?

NOBLE: Uh -- well -- most of the time in Afghanistan, the missions we would do would be duration missions. Meaning that we would leave the base and be out for one, two, three weeks, out in the mountains. So, um, much, much different from the operational tempo in Iraq. Afghanistan -- you know, it's a -- it's a true test, every time you set foot outside of the base and you walk up -- when you walk up a mountain. You know, it's something you gotta -- you gotta reach down every time and find yourself, to walk up a mountain. At -- you know, 3000 feet above sea level, and go to 5000 feet above sea level, or 54:00farther.

GAYHEART: I understand that, uh, you got an award, you were awarded a Navy Achievement Metal.

NOBLE: Uh-huh.

GAYHEART: Over in Afghanistan. Can you tell me about that?

NOBLE: No, that was actually in Iraq.

GAYHEART: In Iraq? That was in Iraq?

NOBLE: Yeah.

GAYHEART: Okay. Um, all right. Let's stick with Afghanistan. Um -- what was it like to, uh, to stay out overnight in the hills of a country that you've never been in?

NOBLE: You know, this, uh, sounds a little crazy, but Afghanistan is, hands down, the most beautiful place I've ever been in my life. Out in the -- out in the middle of the mountains. You know, no artificial light. No nothing. I mean, you know. One of the most dangerous places in the world. But at the same time, one of the most beautiful. 55:00You, uh --

GAYHEART: Crazy dichotomy. Crazy --


GAYHEART: -- juxtaposition there. Is -- what do you think makes the enemy so effective over there?

NOBLE: Uh, the environment. They're--you know, these are guys who grew up in these mountains. They're able to move, they're able to move quickly. They can hide. Um, you know, we -- we follow a chain of command. They don't. You know, we do certain things, we have to get it approved from somebody. They make decisions. You know, and it's -- there's a -- there's a really big difference between running up a -- running up a side of a mountain with an AK47 and three magazines strapped to your chest, and running up the side of a mountain with 150 pounds of gear on.

GAYHEART: Do you think that's where they've got the advantage?

NOBLE: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Th--it's just -- it was guerilla warfare. You 56:00know? It's the -- it's the same as -- the same as Vietnam. I mean, the Vietnamese, their country. They lived in these jungles. It's the exact same thing with Afghanistan. The Afghanis -- you know, they live in these mountains.

GAYHEART: What was -- the first time you got shot at, what was that like?

NOBLE: Uh --

GAYHEART: In Afghanistan.

NOBLE: In Afghanistan? Lot of adrenaline. Whole lot of adrenaline.

GAYHEART: Explain to me the firefight. Explain to me what a firefight is like in Afghanistan.

NOBLE: Uh, the majority of firefights in Afghanistan are ambushes, from a distance. Uh, normally from one ridgeline to another. Maybe six, 700 meters away, possibly farther. You know, and a firefight in Afghanistan will typically last a lot longer than a firefight in Iraq, 57:00just because, uh -- just because, you know, the -- a lotta times, the enemy is set into a place where they've got good cover and concealment, and they can just sit there and shoot at you, and not worry about getting shot.

GAYHEART: Did you ever have any, uh, times where you thought you couldn't get out of the enemy's fire? Or --

NOBLE: Yeah, there -- th--quite a few times where I thought -- you know, "oh, shit. This -- you know, what -- what do we do? This is it." Like, "How do we -- how do we get to a better place?" Because everything -- you know, movement in the mountainous environment is slow. And it doesn't matter if you're sprinting. If you're sprinting up a mountain, it's not fast. You know, and a lot of people talk about that, uh -- that magic adrenaline rush, that combat high that you get, you know. Yeah -- I mean, it's true, but it's not, uh -- it's not 58:00what you think. It's not like you become Superman, you know. If it's 115 degrees outside, and you're sprinting, you're still gonna feel it. Doesn't matter how much adrenaline's going through your body.

GAYHEART: Well,um.

[Pause in recording.]

GAYHEART: Um yeah, so, going back, let's -- let's start off, uh, in Afghanistan. Um, can you vividly describe, um, one of the fiercest firefights that you were in over there?


GAYHEART: Where, when, how it happened? If anybody was hurt?

NOBLE: May 12th, 2005. Um. On -- on May 8th, I actually, uh -- we left to go on a patrol we were gonna be on for about a week. Um, from 59:00Camp Blessing. And, uh, I heard over the -- the sat-com, the satellite communication, which everyone in the battalion could communicate with -- I heard over sat-com that there had been a, uh, there had been two friendly KIA, and three friendly WIA, means two -- you know, either American or Afghani, um, killed in action, and three wounded in action. And, uh, they gave, uh -- they give the initials of -- of one of the guys, and all I heard was the end part. So, uh, I knew it was with Kilo Company Third Battalion Third Marines, and, uh, I thought that it was one of my -- one of my best friends, Nick Collier, who'd been killed. So, about fifteen minute -- I -- I -- the only reason I heard 60:00that, I was in the, uh, center of command briefing my patrol, when I heard -- when I heard that come over the radio. So, about -- you know, fifteen, twenty minutes after this had happened, I left. And we, uh, we went on a patrol back of, uh, a place called the Korengal Valley. And, uh, at the -- (clears throat)--at the time, the Korengal Valley was the most insurgent-infested area in the world. And so we were -- we were in the back of the Korengal Valley. There were about thirteen of us. And we had been patrolling around. And we'd been in some sporadic firefights since we'd been on this mission, just -- you know, somebody shoot f--you know, fifteen, twenty rounds from another ridge line. No big deal. Um. So, I took, uh -- I took a fire team 61:00-- uh, we'd set up a patrol base at this, uh, at this home, at the base of a ridge line. And I took a, uh, fire team one day on -- on -- on May the twelfth, we'd been in there for four days. I took 'em, and we were, uh, we were skirting a ridge line to go up this mountain, just to, uh, check out, see if there were any fighting positions or anything up there. Well, uh, when we got to the top of the ridge line, there was a, uh, there was a saddle in the earth that connected -- that connected this ridge line to another ridge line that ran parallel, but ran higher. So, um, we had stopped at the top of this, on the east -- the eastern side of the -- on -- of the, uh, ridge line, so we weren't 62:00exposed to -- you know, what was here on the west. Well, right after that, we had stopped, and we were gonna go down on the saddle, and go over to the parallel ridgeline, and patrol higher. And by this time, we were about 2000 feet above where our patrol base was, and about 3000 kilometers away from it. Um. And I was the last man, uh, to walk out, uh, from behind the cover. And when I walked out from behind the cover, um, it seemed like the world just exploded. Um, machine guns and RPGs. You know, AK47s, all of it opened up at once. Just a volley of fire from RPGs, um, and, uh -- you know. The -- the rounds, uh, 63:00the rounds from the initial machine gun burst hit about six inches -- in front of four of us. And it was like, uh, it was like something you'd see in a cartoon, where the -- you know, the dust flies up, and the guys dance, or whatever. So, we all took cover. Uh, there was a guy just to my right, and he was actually an Afghan. He was part of the Afghan Security Force. His name was Konwali. And, uh, he got hit by a, uh, a 7.62 round from either a machine gun or from an AK47, that, uh, just -- it hit 'em in -- he'd hit 'em in his heart. So he died before he hit the ground. Um. So, I had, uh, I had a corpsman -- you know, a medical doctor from the Navy, with us. And -- you know, he -- we -- we both ran over and checked him out. And, I mean, it was clear, you know, he was -- you know, he was -- he was -- you know, 64:00like I said, dead before he hit the ground. So, uh, we left him -- you know. We just left him where he sat, right there. 'cause we were still in the middle of the firefight. And then, uh, w--after about five minutes, we started taking small arms fire from below us. So, we were caught in the middle of an ambush. We were taking fire from this ridgeline, and then from directly below us about thirty meters. And, uh, sat there and fought it out for about forty-five minutes. Then the, uh, firing from below us stopped, and the firing from the, uh, parallel ridgeline stopped. And, uh, there was -- kid, Brinker, he was our sniper, was with us. And, um, there was a, uh, there was a goat trail that went down the west side of this mountain, or the west side 65:00of the ridge line that they were on. And, uh, we could tell that the goat trail came out at a village about 2000 feet below us. And about, uh, 1700 meters away. So, uh, Brinker, uh, Brinker watched these guys as they came out, and they got in the back of a Toyota Hilux pick-up truck, with their weapons still in hand, the AK47s and the RPGs and the PKCs and the RPKs. And, uh, I was, uh, I was -- I was -- I wasn't spotting for Brinker, but I was looking through a spotting scope down to this village. And I watched, uh, as Brinker shot -- Brinker shot, uh -- shot three times and, uh, killed, uh, killed one person. Shot 66:00him. And, uh -- shot him in the upper torso from about 1700 meters away, which is roughly a mile, with a, uh -- with a, uh -- M40 sniper rifle. Which was, uh -- was pretty incredible. But the thing is, uh -- you know, I've hear--I've heard about a lot of shots that have happened. Um, in Iraq and Afghanistan. And there's -- there's just, unless -- unless you can recover the body, there's no way to confirm it as a kill. So, um -- me, at the time, I was the highest-ranking person there, and I was a corporal. So, uh, you know, that was one of th--just -- a story that just kind of stayed between us. 'cause, uh, believe it or not, you know, there's really not a lot of merit to you saying that you saw that. But, uh, you know, Brinker -- I think 67:00Brinker's a Navy Seal now. He didn't care about awards or praise or anything. But that's a -- you know, I think I've seen one of the longest confirmed kills ever. Or, long -- one of the longest kills ever. And, uh, I asked him how he did it, and he, uh -- he actually hit the guy on the second shot. He --he, using a sniper rifle, walked around on target, like you would with a, uh, mortar system or something. But he shot, and he said he put the top of the guy's head -- you know, parallel with the cross, or centered up on center mass on the crosshairs, and aimed about -- you know, three feet high. Then, uh, called for -- called for a Med-Evac, by -- helicopter. All our support in Iraq and Afghanistan -- or, in Afghanistan, was Army. 68:00'cause we fell under the combined joint task force, uh, 76, which was all Army-funded. So, all our -- all our administrative support, and all our legal and all our air support and -- came from the Army. And, uh, they wouldn't land this, uh, they wouldn't land this helicopter that was supposed to be for medical evacuation of the -- Konwali, the Afghan, who -- who got killed, they wouldn't land it-- anywhere near us, 'cause they said it was still a hot LZ. So, uh -- after about two and a half hours after the firefight had ended, and we carried this w--this guy almost all the back down the mountain. And the Army came and they picked him up. Um. And that's a -- you know, I'm -- lost a couple friends to stuff like that. So. Any of those guys are out there watching, I'd like to say you're chicken shit.


GAYHEART: Did um-- so -- tell me about, um, the time, you know, when we were back in your apartment, you showed me the, uh, Navy Achievement Medal in Iraq. Explain to me, um, explain to us, I guess, uh, you know, where you were. If you can recall the -- you know, the day of the year. And, um, what province in Iraq, or -- you were in, and how it happened. And that -- that -- you know, that particular event.

NOBLE: Well, it was the India Company, Third Battalion, Third Marines. Um, I was located in the city of Haditha. That's where we had lived, um, for the past, uh -- I think it was, uh -- I think it was on -- 70:00maybe June sixth. I'm not too sure. I don't really read the citation, ever. But, uh, what had happened, there was a, uh -- there was a -- there was an ongoing investigation in the city of Haditha about some events that had occurred there before I was there, that happened with the previous unit, Third Battalion, First Marines. And, uh, a judge advocate general decided to come to, uh, to the city of Haditha. And he wanted to see where it was, uh, where the Marine -- or, a Marine was killed. He wanted to see where he was killed by this improvised explosive device. So, um, we went to my squad -- myself, and this, uh, Lieutenant Colonel, went to, uh, went to a hospital in Haditha. There's only one hospital. You know, it's very -- very poor, very run-down. We went to, uh, went to this hospital in -- in the morning. 71:00Took him down there. You know, we set up security and let this, uh, let this lieutenant colonel speak with the head doctor there at the hospital. So, what happened, um, unbeknownst to myself or anything else, is when this lieutenant colonel was speaking with this doctor, he told this doctor that we were gonna be at such-and-such place at such-and-such a time. So, um, we left -- you know, we went back to the base. You know, no firefights, nothing happened. We left, um, a little later that evening, to go look at this site where this Marine had been killed. And we were split up into, um, two teams. Two seven- man teams. And it's called satelliting, um, because you can -- you can cover a lot more area, with -- with just a squad. So, we used to do it 72:00a lot. You -- you know, you'd stay about a block away. And you always maintained radio contact. But. So, uh -- so, we were satelliting. And, uh, my -- my, uh, my half of the squad that was satellited, we were -- you know, we were first. And the other -- the other team was -- they were on a road that ran parallel to us, about -- you know, a block behind us. Um, the -- we got down about 200 meters away from where that intersection was. And, uh, machine gunfire just opened up. RPGs, RPKs, PKCs. Uh. We took -- I don't know. They -- there were a bunch of empty casings in the, uh, in the road. And we took -- we took about 73:00500 rounds in all. But after, uh, after it was all said -- you know, nobody, uh -- you know, nobody got killed. Only two people got shot. Um. But after -- after that was over with, the, uh -- and we were on our way back to base, the -- the lieutenant colonel said something to me right before we were getting ready to do our debrief, our post- patrol debrief. Said something to me about, um, how he couldn't believe that -- you know, he couldn't believe that we got ambushed. And then he told the doctor that we were gonna be down there at 5:00, seventeen hundred. So, I -- you know, I kind of uh-- my jaw kind of dropped, and I went and talked to my commanding officer about it. Because what -- what that -- you know, that's-- that's called operational security, op- 74:00sec. And what that -- what that colonel had done is, he had told -- you know, he had told someone who could be an insurgent himself, exactly where we were gonna be, and at what time. You know.

GAYHEART: Do you -- can you --

NOBLE: It's like --

GAYHEART: -- recall why, uh, the things that you did to, you know, warrant that award? Things -- you know, specifically?

NOBLE: Yeah. I --

GAYHEART: I mean, I know what the warrant says. But.

NOBLE: I guess I just, uh -- I don't know. I was -- I was the guy in charge. I mean, I don't -- you know. I -- like I said earlier, I think that -- you know, I've done 100 things in the Marine Corps before that deserved an award over that. But, you know, I had a great group 75:00of guys, the best guys in the world. You know, guys who'd do anything for you at the drop of a hat. You know, a lotta times you hear people say, like, "I'd take a bullet for you," or "I'd go to hell and back with you." But these guys -- you know -- you know, we all proved that to each other time and time again, that we'd go to hell and back with each other, and we would take bullets for each other. And that's what -- you know, I -- I -- I'm not trying to jump around what this award was. But, you know, I think the award was for all those guys.

GAYHEART: Were you directing? Were you telling them where to shoot? Were you telling them, you know, where to --

NOBLE: It's actually -- it's one of the worst parts about being a leader. Is when -- when something happens, you know, you sh-- you should actually be the last person to fire your weapon. Um. And that's -- that's hard to -- that's really hard to do. Um. Shew. I 76:00just -- you know, was -- was on the radio, speaking with, uh, speaking with my commanding officer about what was going on. Where we needed support, how we needed support. You know, how many we had wounded. How many rounds we'd taken. Um, where the fire was coming from. You know, and then telling -- telling people, you know, get on -- get on this rooftop of this house to get a -- to get an angle to shoot. And, you know, don't go here. Don't go here, go here. And like I said -- I mean, I'm -- (laughs) -- if you're -- if you're any kind of leader at all, there's a -- about a ninety-nine percent chance that you won't fire a single round.

GAYHEART: Well um--

[Pause in recording.]


CAMERA OPERATOR: I'm rolling again.

GAYHEART: Okay. So, we were talking about, um, we were talking about, 77:00um, you know, what you did, uh, okay, yeah, your overall opinion and thoughts of your first deployment. You know, wh--what it was like to go for the first time.

NOBLE: It --

GAYHEART: The first tour.

NOBLE: I just, uh -- I don't want to say I ran around for seven months with no clue. But, uh, you know, like you said, I don't think you're ever really ready to go to war. And, uh, where I had -- you know, so little time in the Marine Corps. It was, uh, just actually -- you know, it was -- you know. I learned by falling on my face. You know, and luckily, I'm still alive. But it's really, you know, baptism by fire, was what they call it. I guess it's really the only way to learn.


GAYHEART: What about your second tour? What was -- what'd you take away? Or, what'd you -- what'd you take away from the first tour to Iraq? What'd you take away from it? What did you -- were you a different person when you came back home, or --

NOBLE: Yeah. Yeah, I was, uh -- you know, definitely -- I appreciated things. I really appreciated things a lot. Um. I think I saw things for what they were, not just what I thought they were.

GAYHEART: Did -- did your friends or family treat you different after coming home from Iraq the first time?

NOBLE: Yeah, everybody just kind of -- it -- I think -- I think it, like, my last -- my third deployment is when everybody was just kind of really reserved. You know, they were really worried about what they 79:00said, and -- and the manner in which they said it. And -- I'm sure everybody thought I was bat shit crazy.


NOBLE: Um, I don't know. Like I said, I just don't -- I don't have a lot of emotion. I mean, I'm a very, very emotional person. I just don't show emotion.

GAYHEART: Did you show emotion before going to Iraq?

NOBLE: Yeah. I gue-- I guess, just, like, all the, uh -- I don't know. Like, all the compassion I have in my body is all balled up inside. None of it -- none of it comes out. I never wear my heart on my sleeve.

GAYHEART: Was there a tipping point at which you started the ball? I mean, was it that time -

NOBLE: I'd say before Afghanistan.


NOBLE: It's -- it's one -- it's one of those things that you -- you see, like I said, leading by example is so important in the Marines. And 80:00you see -- you see other guys, and you -- you're thinking, you know, "How can this not affect them?" Wh--what you learn as a leader, you know, a lotta times, maybe you're running, and you've got a sprained ankle, or -- you know, something like that. And you're hurting twice as bad as anyone else out there. But it's just the small things. You know, when you laugh about stuff, or you pick up the pace a little bit when everybody else seems like they're getting ready to pass out. You know, those things where you can just push yourself a little, little bit farther.

GAYHEART: Well, what about now, now that you're not in a position to lead?

NOBLE: It's one of the worst adjustments ever, I think. Well, the -- the worst adjustment I'd ever had, going from the Marine Corps straight back into civilian lifestyle, without any transition time. You know, I went from living with the exact same people for four years -- you 81:00know, five -- 5500 miles away from Kentucky. And I just -- you know, just plopped myself right back in the middle of everything. And the tr--I -- I had a horrible time with the transition, you know? And, you know, the first couple months, I'm thinking -- you know -- you know, things'll get better, you know. And then I -- I'm thinking, like, I -- you know, I talk to all my other friends, they sound like they're doing great. You know, am I the only one who has a problem transitioning. And then -- like, a year goes by, and then you talk to your other friends and realize that -- you know, everybody's going through the exact same thing you are. They're just in different -- they're in different places. And they had the exact same mentality you do, you know? You don't -- you have a problem, you don't talk about it, you fix it. But there -- it really seems like, you know, there was no one to talk about, or to talk to it or talk about it to.

GAYHEART: How -- now, with the transition problem, how do you fix those problems? How do you fix the -- the not -- you know, uh, you know, the 82:00unstructured lifestyle that you live now, as compared to when you -- excuse me. When you were in the, the Marines?

NOBLE: Try to create structure for yourself. Do things where you know you're obligated to be there.

GAYHEART: Do you think that's why school?

NOBLE: Yeah. I think that, uh -- I think school is good, in the se-- because it's your -- you know, it's your job. As a, uh -- as a student, you know, a lotta times it's a -- you're taking twelve, thirteen, fifteen, sixteen hours. You know, that's a -- it's a pretty big responsibility. You know, one that's definitely not unmanageable, but one that, uh -- one that you can definitely do.

GAYHEART: You can go back out, on the chest.

CAMERA OPERATOR: Sure. Give me just a second.


GAYHEART: Give me a little more head--that's perfect.

NOBLE: We're back.

GAYHEART: So, you know, um -- after your second or third tour, after your second tour, after your first tour and you went over there the second time, did the -- did the locals or the Taliban, or -- did your mood uh, change? Did anything change? I mean, you said that you got emotionless, and -- and -- and more -- you know, you live by a cadence. Uh, what changed?

NOBLE: I wouldn't really say that I live by a cadence. I say that -- um--the people I probably show the most emotion towards, or the most 84:00emotion about, were people in the Middle East. You know, I think that -- I think that all goes back to the way that I grew up, the advantages that I had. Um. You know. You're -- you're -- where your biggest -- your biggest problem when you're a little kid is, do you get to watch Saturday morning cartoons, or something? You sleep over a friend's house. You know, that's not -- these kids, that's not their problem. You know, you see three-year-olds taking care of newborns. You know, a kid walking around without shoes, not having drinking water, no medical treatment. Um, you know, sometimes not a place to stay, a -- a place to live, good living conditions. Sanitary living conditions. And those are -- you know, I think I showed the most emotion towards those people. And I said -- this is one of the biggest problems. It's 85:00still one of the biggest problems I have with the transition. Is when I hear people complaining -- like, not having hot water, or-and cable going out, or internet going out, or a test being hard. You know? And -- y--and I understand that a lotta times when people say things, it's just a statement. But it -- you know, I -- I really take things to heart, when people say, like, people say, like, "Oh, this test is the hardest thing in the world. It's gonna kill me." No. You go to Iraq or Afghanistan, somebody with a gun walking down the street, whose sole purpose in life to kill you, will kill you. You know, this test is gonna be difficult. But you're still gonna wake up tomorrow, you're gonna be okay.

GAYHEART: Do you think -- (Noble clears throat) -- that attitude desensitizes you to other people?

NOBLE: Yeah. Oh, definitely. Yeah. That's -- I mean, like, a -- 86:00I remember I'd come home on leave sometimes, and my -- you know, friends that, I had grown up -- they'd be fighting. Like, girlfriend, boyfriend fighting. And one of them would cry about something. I'd just laugh. I mean, I know people thought I was a complete asshole. I mean, I really would, 'cause it's so -- it's so minute. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, what is -- what is, you know, a lot -- or -- the--a lot of these arguments. I mean, what are they?

GAYHEART: Do you think you'll ever grow out of that? Do you think you'll always have that, um --

NOBLE: Chip on my shoulder?

GAYHEART: No, not chip, but -- you know, that -- that comparison model?

NOBLE: Um, to a certain extent, I -- I do. 'Cause, I -- you know, I've talked to a lot of people about transitioning back into the civilian world. And I think that -- you know, one of the most important things for me to transition properly is to never, ever forget about -- you 87:00know, where I've been, and what I've seen. Just to facilitate to people in our society, you know? I don't need to go out and complain about my day or work or something just to fit into a conversation. But a lot of people can f--they feel compelled to do that.

GAYHEART: Uh -- has anybody ever told you that -- somebody that knew you before you went into the military. Has anybody told you that you've changed?

NOBLE: Yeah. Oh, yeah.

GAYHEART: What do they say?

NOBLE: Oh, th--just, I'm just a -- you know. Well, I'm more straightforward. I'm not as, uh -- I'm not as tolerant about -- as I used to be, about some things. Um. I'm more tolerant about others.


GAYHEART: Are you -- what do you remember most about the Marines, about your tour of duty?

NOBLE: The guys I was with. Hands down. I mean, that's what -- you know, firefights, deployments, all that. Schools. Um. The thing I remember most about the Marines is the guys that I was in the Marines with.

GAYHEART: Do you think you'll ever create bonds, or relationships with people that you don't have those shared experiences with?

NOBLE: That's kind of hard -- that's kind of hard to say. I think that, uh -- you know, it's something that I try to do. But at the end of the day, you know, you can't make yourself feel a certain way. I think that -- you know I've created bonds with certain individuals that shared a lot of the same experiences. Not necessarily, you know, where 89:00we were there together. But, you know, we shared the same experiences, you know, and I've created--you know, a really good -- a really thick bond with a lot of people in that sense. But, you know, a lot of -- a lot of -- you know a lot of guys that are supportive and everything. But at -- at the end of the day, you just -- you can't explain it to 'em. There's not that understanding, where you can look at someone and just say, you know, you j--or you just look at each other, and they're like, "Yeah, I know."

GAYHEART: What's your opinion on the Iraq and Afghanistan War?

NOBLE: Um --

GAYHEART: Right now?

NOBLE: Shew. The war in Iraq -- it's a war that can be won. It's a war that should be won. There has been way too much political insight to 90:00what has been happening in that country. You know. It's -- it's -- in essence, it's a war being fought by a bunch of people that aren't warriors. At the -- at the highest political level. You know, it's just-- it's the same as Vietnam. You know, you take a hill, you give it back. You take a hill, you give it back. Because somebody who's sitting in an air-conditioned office says, you know, "I want to do this." But what -- what I don't think a lot of people realize is, like, with the stroke of a pen, or an e-mail or something, you know, you -- you -- you could alterely -- or, you could drastically alter someone's life. I mean, you're playing -- you're playing with people like they're pawns in a chess game.

GAYHEART: What about the surge in Iraq -- or, in Afghanistan?

NOBLE: I think the surge in Afghanistan's good. I think that shoulda happened a long time ago. I think that, uh, you know, if there's -- if there's one thing that we don't do well, it's, we don't look at history. 91:00Historically, throughout the occupation of Afghanistan by the -- by the US, by the Russians, by the British, what happens is, they fight in -- they fight in the Hindu Kush Mountains, on the eastern border of Afghanistan, the western border of Pakistan. You fight -- they fight all -- um, they fight all summer. They fight all spring. Right, uh -- right before winter comes, they go to Pakistan. They being the insurgents, Taliban, the Al Qaeda, what have you, go to Pakistan throughout the mountain passes. And then the snow gets a couple feet deep, and all the mountain passes close for the winter. So, these guys just train in Pakistan all winter long. Well, as soon as that snow starts to melt and the mountain pass is open, the insurgents flood back into the country of Afghanistan. So, we may have five months where there's nothing going on. But historically, every year around, uh --



NOBLE: Yeah, like, the May, June time frame -- insurgents are gonna flood back into Afghanistan, into the eastern portions in the Hindu Kush Mountains. And, uh, that's something we were able to combat. You know, somewhat, in -- in the northern portion. So, what did the insurgents do? They did the exact same thing, and went farther south in Afghanistan, down the Kandahar and the Khost Province. You know, down in that region. But I -- I think the, uh -- I think the troop surge, and th--the way that they're employing the troops, is, uh -- I think it's a good thing.

GAYHEART: What do you think about -- just real briefly, what do you think about the President?

NOBLE: Uh, president Obama?


NOBLE: I am a huge supporter of the United States. And, uh -- I think to -- you know, and ob--I -- I was military. I'm -- you know, the 99.9 93:00percent of the military that's a Republican. But -- um, did I vote for Barack Obama? No. I voted for John McCain for -- for a lot of personal reasons. You know, I don't, uh -- I don't think many people understand the -- you know, John McCain's family history, or his personal history. You know, being a POW for five years in Hanoi, and -- you know, them offering him release after two years, but not taking it. And staying being tortured for additional three -- you know, his father is fleet admiral of the Navy during Vietnam. His grandfather was -- you know, Pacific fleet commander during World War Two. You know, he's -- I think the McCain -- I think the McCain family might be one of the last great American families. In the sense that uh -- you know, service 94:00to your country comes first and foremost. I think everyone should be like that, but I think that, uh -- you know, I think you need people like that. But, uh -- you know. And that's why I -- I voted for John McCain. And President Obama, from the second he was sworn in, I -- I supported the President of the United States 100 percent. 'Cause I feel like to -- you know, because of racial or political differences, or whatever, you know, uh -- and you hear a lot of that around here, but that y--if you -- if you wish or hope for your President to fail, you know, you're hoping for your country to fail. Because if your President fails, your country fails. And -- you know, I don't -- do I have a problem with the fact that he's never picked up a weapon, and -- and stood a post for our country? Yeah. I -- I do I really do. I -- I have a problem with a lot of people, you know? It's -- it's a freedom 95:00that -- it's a freedom that, you know, you enjoy. But it's just -- it's handed to you on a silver spoon. I mean, whether you're homeless, or -- you know. If you haven't s--if you haven't done something in the defense of this nation, you know, I -- I feel like, that you have a sense of entitlement. That you're not -- you know, that you're not justified to have. And I think that -- you know, militarily, that, uh -- you know, President Obama, because of the state of the economy, which is -- you know, another incredibly important thing, but I think that, you know, the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan have been put on the back burner -- (sighs). You know, I mean, ask -- ask--ask 100 guys in the military if they would fight in Iraq or Afghanistan. You'll get 96:0099 of those people, you know, on a bad day, that will say, "No." Not 'cause they're brainwashed, but because they -- they've seen -- they've seen, firsthand, what -- you know, what -- what being in a third world country like Iraq or Afghanistan is like for these people. And, you know, if -- if you fight -- if you don't fight for -- if you don't fight for -- 9/11, or terrorism, or anything -- you know, you fight -- you fight for the people who are there, who can't fight for themselves.

GAYHEART: Are you -- are you proud of your service?

NOBLE: Yeah. I'm incredibly proud of it. You know, f--four years and three months, I think I had a lifetime worth of experiences.

GAYHEART: Did you plan your departure out of the Marines for a long time?


NOBLE: Uh, about a year and a half. I just -- you know, I extended my contract, and I said, you know, when it -- when it comes -- you know, when it comes to be December 10th, 2006, you know, I'll -- I'll no longer don the uniform of a United States Marine. I would say -- it was hard. And all the -- you know, all the joking and everything aside, it's -- it's -- it's a tough thing to do, to just -- you know, just completely give up your life.

GAYHEART: Did you return home with the intention of going to college?

NOBLE: No. Not at all, actually. My, uh -- my -- my uncle has a very, very successful business. And, uh, I went to work for him. And I made, you know, I made good money and I just couldn't really get past 98:00the fact that, uh -- you know I was working with a lot of people who did manual labor, so they had this incredible sense of entitlement about things. You know. And I was just -- I was so easily irritated at that time. And just wasn't a good fit. So.

GAYHEART: What -- what -- what was the turning point that made you go enroll in college?

NOBLE: Uh, my girlfriend at the time. She -- you know, talked to me about college a lot. Said that she thought I'd be really good at it, and that I should go.

GAYHEART: Did you think that, uh, from the get-go, that you would be successful going to college?

NOBLE: I did. I had a little hesitation at first, because it was a completely 100 percent unknown. You know, I'd, uh -- last time I'd 99:00been in a formal classroom environment in a -- in a school setting, outside of the Marine Corps, was in -- what, May of 2002. You know, and I was picking back up. I was starting in January of 2009.

GAYHEART: Did you do well in high school?

NOBLE: Average. like a three-oh, or something.

GAYHEART: Compare your high school academics to your college academics now. Is --

NOBLE: There's no comparison. None whatsoever. I mean, I -- I get As and Bs in college. I did not, however, get As and Bs in high school.

GAYHEART: Why do you think that is?

NOBLE: I just didn't try. I just didn't apply myself. That's -- plain and simple. I mean, no -- no excuse.

GAYHEART: Do you think you apply yourself now because of the -- your experiences, or --

NOBLE: Yeah. I think I -- I think I apply myself because I'm goal- 100:00oriented. I know what I need to do. I want to be a counselor for veterans, and I know that I need a Bachelors in Social Work and a Masters in Social Work to get to that point where I can have a job like that.

GAYHEART: Well, what -- when you enrolled, what challenges did you face?

NOBLE: Um, admissions. I had a problem with, uh, one of the admissions officers. Just pretty much told me my military credit wasn't gonna count for anything. And this was before the establishment of the Veterans Resource Center at the university. So, uh -- just trying to find somebody to talk to. Just -- somebody who would give me a straight answer, instead of just filling out forms and sending e-mails and waiting in line. Just -- just like, a go-to person, where I could say, "Hey, how do I do this?" And they say, "Oh, you just do this, this, and this."


GAYHEART: Did you know -- how do you think you are different than the typical college student? When you walk into a classroom?

NOBLE: S--I'm not intimidated. I walk into a classroom thinking, "What am I gonna get out of this class today?" You know? Like, I'm--I'm paying money to be here. College isn't just the next step after high school for me. You know, I'm -- I really -- I want to be here, and I want to learn.

GAYHEART: Do you think that you're more -- well, what are the differences between -- what do you think the differences are between -- you know, the -- typical college sophomore, and you as a sophomore?

NOBLE: Uh, train of thought. You know? I think a typical college 102:00sophomore may be, "What am I doing Thursday night?" You know. "When do I need to start applying for companies?" You know. "My Dad got me the red BMW instead of the white one." No, in all seriousness, you know, it's just -- I think that, uh -- when -- when I -- when I walk into a classroom, I -- and I sit down, I look at -- I look at the teachers, almost -- or, the professors, almost like a peer. And -- and -- at -- and -- them, as -- as a teacher or professor, being someone who -- who understands more about the specific subject that they're teaching. And -- you know, hopefully being able to ren--retain that knowledge they're trying to give me.

GAYHEART: Well, did you find -- did you find school, after you got into it, did you find it a lot easier?


NOBLE: Yeah. Oh, yeah. I -- I -- I figured out that, you know, even though these kids have taken math and writing and reading and all that, you know -- you know, much, uh -- much more recently than I have, that -- you know, I could just on work ethic alone, I could get a B in most of these classes, without ever taking even a test. Just by doing -- you know, homework takes five minutes.

GAYHEART: What -- what do you think -- what things do you think the university has, and -- and can do in the future, to improve upon your transition? Well, let's go back. What do you think the military can do better for your transition?

NOBLE: Well, s--it's funny. I, uh -- I filled out a survey the other day. A guy -- somebody in the UKMVA had made up, and I -- I actually, 104:00he -- he just wanted me to take a look at it, but I filled it out for him and sent it back. And that's, uh -- you know. That's -- I talked -- I talked a little bit about, um -- the, uh -- transitional assistance program, the TAPS. And, uh -- the TAMPS, for the Marine Corps, which are two transitional courses that you take, ending active service from the Marine Corps. But you can take those up to one year before your end active service date. So, I actually took mine before I went to Iraq this last time as a Marine.

GAYHEART: So, that wasn't--

NOBLE: So, you know, y--I sit in a class two days. It's just a big information dump. They -- they make sure and say, "Hey, you know, your name's not Noble, it's Nathan." So, you're calling everybody by their first names. And, uh -- then you walk out the door, and you go to a 105:00war zone for eight months.

GAYHEART: And you gotta come back.

NOBLE: Then you gotta come back, and then you gotta try to transition back. Which -- you know. I mean, it completely -- when you're -- when you're getting ready to deploy, the last thing in the world you want to think about is, "I need to call this person by their first name. I need to sign up for this at the VA Medical Center." You know? You're thinking, like, "I need to get everybody back here alive before I can even start worrying about that."

GAYHEART: So what things do you do today to help you -- you know, make the day-to-day easier? What do you do? Do you go to the VA, do you go to the -- do you sit with other guys that have had those types of experiences? Do you -- you know, what do you do? Play sorts?

NOBLE: The Veterans Resource Center at the university. The VA Hospital. The VFW, the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Um -- you know, I've learned 106:00-- I've learned over the last couple years that the -- really, the only thing that makes me happy is being around other veterans. I mean, that's -- that's it.

GAYHEART: You think -- why do you think that is?

NOBLE: It's -- I think we -- we all care--you know, we all share a common bond.

GAYHEART: Are you, uh --

NOBLE: Uh-huh.

GAYHEART: Do you carry on any stress from any of this stuff that you've experienced?

NOBLE: Yeah. I do. I -- I carry, you know -- carry a lot of stress around. And that's -- you know, something, I've been working with some people over the last year or so to try to, uh -- try to figure out how 107:00I can live a less stressful life.


GAYHEART: Do you -- you know, uh -- are those -- are those things helping?

NOBLE: Yeah, they are. It's not something that happens overnight, though. You know, it's a-- it's a slow transition. It's a slow and painful transition.

GAYHEART: What do they do to help?

NOBLE: Um, there's actually -- there's a group of, uh, Vietnam veterans I meet with every Tuesday night, and that's really helped me transition. Meeting with those guys, talking to those guys. Hmm.

GAYHEART: W--I mean, can you list any other things?

NOBLE: The -- the Veterans Resource Center. The University of Kentucky Military Veterans of America. You know, always knowing that you can 108:00pick up the phone and call or e-mail another veteran. Another student veteran, who, uh -- who -- you know, maybe has taken the same class you're take -- or, you've -- you're taking, or -- you're taking the class together, and -- you know, you guys can work on things together. And you know it's another veteran.

GAYHEART: Do you feel that any of those things fall short?

NOBLE: Hmm, yeah. I think the -- the -- there's a place here called The Vet Center. And, uh, The Vet Center is designed for, uh -- readjustment counseling for veterans. And, uh -- I -- I used to volunteer there. And, uh, you know, some -- there were some allegations of things that happened there, and as a result of these allegations, um, you know, the wrong people kept their jobs, and the right people were asked to leave. 109:00Um. And the only -- the only people hurt by this were the veterans.

GAYHEART: You know, on a -- on a daily basis, and we're getting ready to wrap up, um, on a daily basis, day to day, what is different? What is different compared to Fleet, and now that you're a college student?

NOBLE: Uh, everything.

GAYHEART: Explain.

NOBLE: Everything. You know uh,, like I said, you live a much more structured lifestyle. Though it seems like in the Marine Corps, you always want to push myself. I mean, with everything, with sleep, I mean, you push yourself to the limit all the time. On a daily basis. As a college student, you know, you just really -- I guess, where you do a lot of classroom stuff -- it's just not really pushing myself, to me. 'cause it's not physical, um. You know, it just seems like it -- 110:00it seems like a very relaxed, very laid-back atmosphere.

GAYHEART: Do you like that?

NOBLE: Yeah, I do. I like it. I like it sometimes.

GAYHEART: Do you find yourself compensating in other ways, to try to find things that fulfill your day?

NOBLE: Yeah it, I mean -- you know, it's -- it's funny. Uh -- like, all -- all these things outdoors. You know, and I swear, the Marine Corps ruined the outdoors for me. 'cause it's just col--either hot and uncomfortable, or cold and uncomfortable. And either hot -- hot and wet and uncomfortable, or cold, wet and uncomfortable. So, I really kind of got -- when I first got out of the Marine Corps, I got away 111:00from going outside. Doing -- doing as many outside activities. But now, I do outside activities all the time, 'cause it makes me feel like I'm still back in the Marine Corps somewhat.

GAYHEART: Do you -- do you find yourself -- you know, we talked earlier about being disengaged with other people in your life. Do you find yourself disengaging from the normal college experience?

NOBLE: Sometimes. Sometimes I -- sometimes I just get in a mood, and I just won't feel like engaging in the normal college experience.

GAYHEART: Why is that?

NOBLE: Um. I guess just, a lot of the thing--like, going out to bars, and there being 100 people in one bar. It just -- it's not appealing to me. I'd rather sit at home, and watch TV or a movie, or read a book. Or drink by myself.

GAYHEART: Do you think that that's -- is that therapeutic for you?


NOBLE: Yeah. It is.

GAYHEART: How does it make you feel? I mean, is that --

NOBLE: It makes me, uh, it makes me feel good. You know, initially, I -- I got so mad at the people who just complained all the time, that I ended up finding myself that I was the person who complained all the time about the people who complained all the time. So, I really had to step back, kind of take a look at things, and say, "Okay. Whoa."

GAYHEART: What are -- what are your -- what are your goals? What -- what's your goals?

NOBLE: I'd like to, uh -- I'd like to have a family. Uh, be a counselor for veterans. Be successful at it. Not -- not in the money sense, but successful in the f--in the sense that -- you know, I can help other veterans.

GAYHEART: How close are you to obtaining all that?


NOBLE: About, uh -- about two years for the undergraduate, and then, you know, about two years for the Masters. About four years 'til I'm -- I'd say I'm done with schooling.

GAYHEART: Your -- do you think your experience is gonna be that of -- a good experience at the University of Kentucky?

NOBLE: I do. I think it's gonna be -- I -- I really like UK. I think it's -- it's one of those things -- you know, you can always find bad apples in everything that you do. But, uh -- everyone thus far at the university has been incredibly receptive to me.

NOBLE: Now, uh -- the tattoo on my, uh, back left shoulder, it's -- it's a design that one of my friends did. It's a, uh -- it's an al--angel leaning down with a rifle stuck in the ground, and, uh -- (snaps fingers) -- there -- there are a couple names below it. Um. Four of the names were good friends of mine that were killed in the helicopter crash. Um. And, uh -- the fifth name was a good friend of mine who 114:00was killed in Afghanistan. I actually have three more names to, uh -- to put on below the last name. Friends of mine that have been killed in Afghanistan here recently. Ah, but -- it's Timmy -- Timmy Gibson, Nate Moore. Michael Starr(??). Stephen Johnson(??). And, uh, Nicholas Kirben(??). And, uh -- Starr, Moore, Gibby and Johnson were all killed in Iraq, and Kirben was killed in Afghanistan.

GAYHEART: And when did you get this tattoo?

NOBLE: I got this tattoo, um--two -- some time during 2005.

GAYHEART: Okay. All right. And why did you get it?

NOBLE: I just, uh -- I did it, uh -- I don't know. I did it as something I'll -- I'll be able to wear on me the rest of my life, so I 115:00won't ever forget those people.

[End of interview.]

Search This Transcript