TURLOCK -- Escorted by patrol cars and saluted by police officers, firefighters, city leaders and an honor guard, the body of a Coast Guard petty officer arrived here late Sunday from Hawaii.
Joshua X. Noz, 28, who grew up in Denair and was stationed in Honolulu, died there following a motorcycle crash the afternoon of March 27. After a military service on his ship, the Coast Guard cutter Polar Star, Noz's parents accompanied their son's body on the flight from Hawaii to San Francisco on Sunday and the drive into Turlock.
About 10:45 p.m., the hearse was received by a Patriot Guard Riders honor guard, Turlock Mayor Gary Soiseth, police Chief Rob Jackson and fire Chief Robert Talloni, along with police officers and firefighters, emergency vehicles with lights flashing, and a ladder truck holding aloft a large U.S. flag.
"I was awestruck" by the reception, Patriot Guard Riders member Mark Tury of Modesto wrote in a letter to the editor of The Modesto Bee. "Keeping in mind that all this happened within a few hours' notice speaks to the determination and dedication of Turlock leadership to honor its veterans."
Jackson said Allen Mortuary asked the police and fire departments for an escort for the guardsman and his family. Using on-duty personnel only, he said, the departments had about a half-dozen officers and eight or so firefighters go out to meet the hearse.
"We reached out to our former service members first," Jackson said, "and said if they wanted to be part of it, they had dibs. ... Our condolences to his family. Anytime you lose a loved one, especially at that age, it's difficult."
After graduating from the Denair Unified School District, Noz attended Modesto Junior College, then enlisted in the Coast Guard in 2011 and worked as a machinery technician. He first was stationed at Cape Disappointment in Washington state, then was assigned to the Polar Star in Seattle, which took him to the North Pole and to Antarctica twice, said his sister Stephanie De Muro. He'd been based in Hawaii about a year and lived in Aiea.
Noz married his wife, Kayli, right before he enlisted, De Muro said. They have a 3-year-old son, Eli. Her brother's time with his wife and son was precious because he "got shipped out a lot, every other week." He was in Antarctica more than six months.
"He loved life and loved scuba diving, shooting, he was a really good marksman," Noz's sister said. "He loved his job and he loved the Coast Guard. ... He made some of the best friends he ever had in his unit in Hawaii -- best friends for life. And that's really shown through the past week and a half, how supportive the military is."
Her brother's commander was with the Noz family in Turlock, she said, and members of his crew were to take the week off and will arrive here Wednesday for his services Thursday.
Though Kayli Noz was born and raised in Denair, De Muro said, her parents live in Alabama, and she was there visiting them when her husband was killed.
"We're getting through as best we can," De Muro said. A GoFundMe page has been established with a goal of raising $10,000 for Eli Noz's education.
According to online news reports from Hawaii, Noz was riding on the Likelike Highway into Kaneohe on the island of Oahu. Police said he was traveling at high speed when he took an offramp, lost control of his 2014 Honda and struck steel cables. He was taken to a medical center in critical condition and later died of blunt force injuries, according to the Honolulu Star Advertiser.
In addition to his wife, child and De Muro, Noz is survived by his parents, Casper and Diane Noz of Denair, who own Noz Construction and the Kasteel Noz special events venue in Snelling; sister Andrea Waugaman; a niece; and two nephews.
Services will be held Thursday. The rosary will start at 9 a.m. at Allen Mortuary, 247 N. Broadway, followed by Mass at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church, 2602 S. Walnut Road. An honor guard service will be held at the church; burial will be private. A reception will take place at the Denair Community Center.