This is the 25th in a series about graduates from Mountain Valley High School who are serving our country in the military.
Being a tractor-trailer driver is not an unusual occupation for a Mountain Valley High School graduate from the class of 1998. But being part of a unit that drove just under 3 million miles in the desert is unique.
Specialist Erik Noll joined the U.S. Army Reserve and described his job as a tractor- trailer driver, “We would haul everything from water and food, to ammunition, to vehicles. If it would fit on a 40 foot long flat-bed trailer, we hauled it.”
He explained, “I was attached to the 619th Transportation Company in Auburn, ME.
We were deployed to Iraq from February 2004 to February 2005. We were based in Southern Iraq, where we would run missions down to Kuwait, pick up whatever it was we were tasked to get, and then transport it to different camps throughout Iraq. We set a record for most miles driven at just under 3 million miles. To my knowledge, no other military transportation unit has broken that record. We left here, and came back home with everyone, and every piece of equipment.”
Returning with an intact company was probably its best accomplishment.
After his honorable discharge in 2008, he has continued to serve but in a different capacity. Rather than serving with veterans, he serves veterans.
He said, “A couple years after I got out, I decided to go back to college. Just before I graduated, I was offered a position with the Lewiston Veterans Center, where I am currently the office manager. We provide Readjustment Counseling Services to other veterans who have been deployed to or in support of combat zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan.”
How did Spec. Noll begin his journey of service?
He explained, “There were a lot of reasons that motivated me to enlist — Patriotism, glory, and travel. The biggest reason however, was that I simply wanted the challenge. I was always that chunky kid that was under-estimated by my peers. I wanted and needed to prove to myself that I was capable of something more. When I completed Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training in the summer of 2000, I felt like I was capable of anything.”
Since then that under-estimated young man learned a lot along the way. “The absolute biggest thing I learned from my time, especially my deployment, is to appreciate life, and not take things for granted. To accept things for what they are, but know that if you don’t like it, you have the ability to change it. It took me a few years to really figure that out.”
Spec. Noll has used those life lessons in new roles – husband and father. He said, “I re- married in August 2012 to Heather. She has become my ultimate motivation to succeed in everything I do. Together we have four children. My step-daughter Alexis, and my three children, Dawson, Ahlia, and Brayden. They are all my pride and joy, and they have such a huge capacity for loving others. I met my wife while I was in college. She amazed me right from the start. Being a successful working mom, she challenged me to step up, and be a better man. We’ve been together for almost three years, and I’m still working on that challenge! Haha! In our short time together, she’s taught me a lot of things I didn’t expect, and I’m sure as we grow old together, she’ll have plenty more to teach me.”
Spec. Noll is the son of Catherine and the late Victor Noll and brother to Rebecca Noll.
His parents lived in Mexico but moved to Hartford several years ago where his mom still lives.