By DON STINE
Scott Nokes, a Neptune Marine veteran, who served in Afghanistan, arrived home unscathed from battle but when he got home he would find that he his biggest battle was still ahead of him.
Nokes, 25, is believed to have contracted an illness during his two tours in Afghanistan that didn’t hit him until last September when he was safely back home. He contracted a horrible infection that took over his system. He ended up at Jersey Shore University Medical Center where both his legs were amputated below the knees. He also lost his vision due to the infection and underwent kidney dialysis.
Asbury Park Harold Daley VFW Post 1333 presented a $5,000 donation, from an anonymous donor, to Nokes at his Shark River Hills-area home this week.
“We have been following your story and it is very inspirational to us. We continue to keep our thoughts and prayers with you and we are not going anywhere,” Post Commander Frank Brogna said when presenting the check.
Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden and Monmouth County Fire Marshall Kevin Stout also attended the check presentation to show their support.
Nokes said he was very happy to get the check.
“I am at a loss for words- and I am rarely at a loss for words,” he said.
He said the money will be used to finish off several handicapped-access modifications made to his house.
“It will go a long way toward paying the remaining bills that we have,” he said.
Brogna, who will receive the Asbury Park Chamber of Commerce’s Humanitarian Carousel Award next month for work done by the post, said he believes supporting Nokes is one of the more important projects the post has done in recent years.
“The post does a lot to help many people and charities every year but I think helping Scott is one of the best things the post has done recently. I can’t believe amount of people coming out to support him and I am proud that we, as a community, have been able to garner this type of support,” he said.
And Nokes’ positive mental attitude through all of this is a real inspiration, Brogna said.
“I am so inspired by him and I can’t stop talking about how uplifting his spirit is. People have come out of the woodwork to support him and we will continue to help Scott,” he said.
Nokes joined VFW Post 1333 last year and Brogna said that more young veterans seem to have a greater interest in joining the VFW than in the past. He said almost 30 veterans from the Araqi and Afghanistan military actions joined recently.
“I think these veterans see what we are doing for people like Scott and understand that we don’t forget about our veterans. I think veterans understand that Scott could have been anyone of us and I think that is always at the back of their minds- what type of help would we have wanted?” he said.
Nokes is a volunteer with the Shark River Hills Fire Department and served two tours in Afghanistan with the U.S. Marines. He was earlier a waiter at Kelly’s Tavern and also worked the door at the Headliner and Norwood Inn.