On November 8, 2004, Robert (Bobby) Paul Warns II, a corporal with Marine Corps Company 2/24, was killed alongside four of his comrades in an IED blast while on patrol in Iraq. From that point, the lives of his family, including his aunt, Noreen Nowak, were changed forever.
“Losing a family member, while deployed, tears many families apart,” Nowak said. “I am fortunate to report the experience has only brought us closer together.”
This year, the City of Fishers honored the families of fallen veterans with the dedication of the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument during the city’s Memorial Day ceremony. The monument, located on the Central Green in front of City Hall, honors the families of veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
Noreen Nowak, who spoke during the ceremony, said Bobby was a bright star in her life, giving the best hugs and making her laugh, even on the toughest days. “The Gold Star Memorial reminds me that Bobby is not forgotten and that my family’s service and sacrifice is also recognized and honored,” Nowak said.
Nowak’s son, James, serves as an Army Infantry Specialist at Ft. Benning in Georgia, and her daughter, Megan, works in Chicago as an industrial engineer. She said they both understand the privilege of being raised in such a supportive community with neighbors that helped make losing Bobby more bearable. They both plan to visit the memorial soon.
The monument is part of a nationwide initiative to honor fallen veterans and their families. Hershel “Woody” Williams, a WWII Marine veteran who served in the Battle of Iwo Jima and received the Congressional Medal of Honor, established the Woody Williams Foundation after his experience delivering telegrams to Gold Star families informing them of the death of their loved ones.
Williams and his foundation originally sought to honor Gold Star Families with a monument in his community in West Virginia. That idea has since grown to include more than 85 monuments established and more than 75 projects underway in all 50 U.S. states and 1 U.S. territory. “It is healing to have the memorial in Fishers,” Nowak said. “I will be forever grateful to all the people who worked diligently to make it happen. It will be a place my family and I will visit and perhaps shed a tear or two, and continue the lifelong process of adjusting to a life without Bobby’s earthly embrace.”
“I am proud, beyond measure, that the good people of Fishers have dedicated themselves not only to remembering our brave, fallen heroes, but also their families,” Nowak said at the Memorial Day ceremony. “May all who visit this memorial be comforted by its presence.”
Learn more about the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument.
FAVORITE LOCAL RESTAURANT: The Roost
FAVORITE FISHERS PARK: Roy G. Holland Memorial Park
FAVORITE LOCAL BUSINESS: White’s Ace Hardware
FAVORITE WAY TO SPEND A SATURDAY: Go to the Fishers Farmers’ Market, take a long walk in Ritchey Woods
and meet up with some friends for a meal on the patio at Chatham Tap.
Colin Kulpa is a former Communications Intern for the City of Fishers Public Relations Department. He is from Knox, Indiana, and graduated from Knox High School in 2018. He is currently attending Indiana University Bloomington, majoring in Media Science and Media Management, Law and Policy. In the fall, he will be the Editor in Chief at the Indiana Daily Student, one of the nation’s premiere student news outlets. He loves IU football and motorsports, specifically IndyCar, and plays the drums whenever he gets a chance. He is new to Fishers, but is quickly learning the area and enjoying all it has to offer. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter, @ColinKulpa.