Martin Nuckols, a retired U.S. Marine, serves as the guest speaker at a Veterans Day ceremony at Brunswick City Hall on Friday. HALEE HEIRONIMUS / GAZETTE
BRUNSWICK — In 2005, Veterans Day took on a new significance for retired U.S. Marine Martin Nuckols.
“It was a rough year,” the Westfield Center resident told a crowd of veterans and families Friday morning during a ceremony at City Hall.
That year, the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, comprised of about 1,000 active duty and reservists, lost 48 members in Iraq. Nuckols, a reservist at the time, was assigned to notify six families whose loved ones died.
“It was very challenging,” Nuckols said. “But I accepted that challenge and I’ve built great bonds with the families who unfortunately lost their loved ones.”
Two of the families Nuckols notified or arranged funerals for were Lance Cpl. Thomas Keeling and Cpl. Brad Squires. Both men have a memorial highway dedicated to them on portions of Interstate 71.
“What took over the difference (of Veterans Day) is when you travel north on Interstate 71 and see those two signs,” Nuckols said.
“It makes me proud that they still honor their Marines on days like today.”
Revelations as a reservist
Growing up in a military family — his father retired from the U.S. Air Force, three of his brothers went into the Marines and two went into the Air Force — Nuckols said Veterans Day was about “remembering those that served before us, those that currently serve and also looking forward to those that are going to be serving.”
But his experience as a reservist adds a new meaning to the federal holiday.
“I was never in combat during active duty,” he said. “I never experienced the totality until I was in the reserves. The bond and closeness you develop with families from being there on their worst day … I’ve been in units where we’ve lost members in accidents … this takes on a different stigma.”
Nuckols joined the Marines in 1981 and was active for 12 years. For 2ﾽ years, Nuckols served as a security guard for U.S. Embassies. He traveled to Geneva, Switzerland; Frankfurt, Germany; and St. Petersburg, Russia.
In 1993, Nuckols married his wife, Angela, and in 1994, their daughter, Kelani, was born in Hawaii.
One year later, he ended his military career and was hired as a corrections officer at the Medina County Sheriff’s Office in 1996. Nuckols currently is a sergeant and organizes group tours at the Medina County Jail.
Nuckols then joined the reserves in 2001 and retired in 2008.
Songs and salute
The city’s annual Veterans Day ceremony also included words from Tom Chester of Veteran of Foreign Wars Post 9520, American Legion Post 234 Commander Bob Prevost and VFW Post 9520 Commander Norm Cerny.
The Brunswick High School string quartet, directed by Valerie Roman, performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful.” The ceremony concluded with a rifle salute and the playing of taps outside of city hall.
Contact reporter Halee Heironimus at (330) 721-4012 or firstname.lastname@example.org.