1st-mark-noziska

1st Lt. Mark Noziska Photo by Courtesy of the Noziska family

Two Fort Carson soldiers were killed in Afghanistan on Monday, according to family members and newspaper accounts.

The dead were identified as Pfc. Chad Clements, 26, of Huntington, Ind., and 1st Lt. Mark Noziska, 24, of Grand Island, Neb.

The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne, Ind., reported that Clements died in a roadside bomb blast while on a mission.

He was a graduate of Huntington North High School and joined the Army in February 2009, the newspaper reported.

Noziska was also killed Monday by an improvised bomb, said his brother, Troy Noziska, also of Grand Island.

It was unclear if the soldiers were wounded in the same attack, and their unit affiliation wasn’t immediately available.

Noziska was remembered as an upbeat and outgoing overachiever who was crowned “Mr. Monarch” during his senior year at Papillion-La Vista High School in Nebraska  – for which he performed a comical dance in front of the school.

“He was kind of a prankster. He liked to have fun, and he did everything with a smile,” said his older brother, Troy Noziska.

He is also survived by his parents, William Jr. and Dorethea Noziska, an older sister, Tracy, and his siblings’ five children.

Noziska’s parents and brother planned to leave for Dover, Del., on Tuesday night, to reclaim his body.

Family members gathered to mourn at the home of Noziska’s grandparents in Grand Island, Neb. Tracy Noziska recalled a time when her brother ignored doctor’s orders to rest a broken toe and went waterskiing.

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“He was the kind of guy who wasn’t going to go without fun,” she said.

Noziska loved to chase around his niece and nephews, and he usually made a beeline for the children whenever he stopped for a visit.

“They loved it when Uncle Mark picked on them,” Dorethea Noziska said. “They’d squeal. He loved them and they loved him.”

Noziska joined the Army National Guard after high school, and then signed up for the Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, intent on making the Army his career.

He was commissioned as an officer upon graduating in 2008, and promoted to 1st lieutenant in late July, before deploying to Afghanistan, according to his father, William Noziska Jr.

“He said, ‘I can’t wait to be over there, helping my fellow soldiers out,” William Noziska said.

His Facebook.com profile listed his current city as Kandahar, the Taliban stronghold where much of Fort Carson’s 1st Brigade Combat Team deployed beginning in July.

The unit suffered its first casualty Aug. 22 when Spc. Pedro A. Millet, of Elizabeth, N.J., was fatally wounded by a bomb blast in the Arghandab River Valley, the Defense Department said.

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Call the writer at 719-636-0366.

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