MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Lance Cpl. Joshua Gharam Noakes is a 24-year-old supply administrative and operations clerk with the supply section of the Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force. He hails originally from Norwich, England. He came to the United States at the age of 15 and earned his citizenship after completing Marine Corps recruit training.
“I considered going back home to England to serve in the Royal Marines, but I decided to stay here,” Noakes said. “The Marine Corps stood out to me more than the other branches. I’ve never turned down a physical or mental challenge, so I wanted the best of both worlds.”
Noakes underwent recruit training aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina. The depot would hold an even more special reverence for Noakes because it would be the place of his naturalization.
“I became a U.S. citizen in boot camp,” Noakes said. “It was an awesome and proud day.”
As a supply Marine within the GCEITF, Noakes and his Marines have been occupied with gear transfers, organization and dissemination of essential equipment for future task force operations.
“We deal with gear transfers, such as weapons, radios and other communications gear and make sure it goes where it is supposed to,” Noakes said. “(Sgt. Daniel E. True, supply administrative and operations specialist, supply section, GCEITF), basically took me under his wing and taught me everything hands-on.”
Noakes ultimately feels content with his decision to stay in the United States. He feels his childhood of constantly changing locations has prepared him for what lies ahead.
“I was born and raised in Norwich for 12 years,” Noakes said. “I was with my mother until I was about six, and then I lived with my dad and stayed in England for a few years before moving to Norway.”
During his life in Europe, soccer came to Noakes naturally as a hobby. He said influence of the sport is heavy in the region.
“I was a huge soccer fan most of my childhood,” Noakes said. “I spent the first half of my life thinking I was going to be a professional soccer player, but that didn’t work out. The influence of the sport in Europe is massive. As a boy, my friends and I wanted to do it for life.”
When Noakes was 15 years old, he and his father came to the United States because of his father’s relationship with an American woman who would later become Noakes’ step-mom.
“We lived in Alexandria, Virginia, and then moved to Blacksburg, Virginia,” Noakes said. “From seeing movies, I only had a small idea of what the United States was like.”
Noakes said he was culture shocked once he became immersed in the public school system. An all new world of social norms collided with his foreign status.
“It took me a while to get used to it,” Noakes said. “Going to school with 1,800 students was overwhelming but I settled in pretty well. The first half of my life, I was in and out of school. (In the United States), it was a massive place and almost a fresh start for me education-wise.”
His love for soccer played a large part in helping him settle in while still comfortably doing what he enjoyed.
“I played soccer throughout high school and I loved it,” Noakes said. “It was my settling thing; it kind of grounded me.”
When Noakes completed high school, he worked a few jobs before thinking that it was time for something different. He took his father’s advice to pursue military service. He is now one of several Marines tasked with the urgent responsibility of outfitting the various companies within the task force with what they need, and looks forward to continue serving the country that he arrived in eight years ago.
“I think ‘adapt and overcome’ would explain my life up to this point,” Noakes said. “I’ve been through a lot of changes, and it’s frightening when you’re young. While there are things to offer (in the United Kingdom), I don’t see as much potential as the United States has. It’s been a good decision for me.”
From October 2014 to July 2015, the Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force will conduct individual and collective skills training in designated combat arms occupational specialties in order to facilitate the standards based assessment of the physical performance of Marines in a simulated operating environment performing specific ground combat arms tasks.