Bradenton veteran, businessman buys iPads for troops in Afghanistan

vmannix@bradenton.comJanuary 2, 2014 

BRADENTON -- The request was simple, but it moved Mike Nobles.

The M&L Cabinets owner had been asked to contribute something for a special care package to U.S. servicemen and women stationed in Afghanistan at Christmastime.

It jogged his memory.

Forty-six years ago to the day, Nobles spent Christmas in Cu Chi, South Vietnam, serving as a combat medic with the 25th Infantry Division.

"It was the loneliest period I ever had in my entire life and I will never forget it," said the fourth oldest of 10 children from Portage, Ind. "You're with 70 guys, but it's not like family. I'd get letters and stuff, but it'd take a month.

"I decided if I could do something to make it a little bit better for somebody who was now in my shoes, I would."

Nobles and wife, Linda purchased, and donated five iPads -- each $400 or more -- and they were delivered the day before Christmas, according to the care package project organizer.

"Mike wanted to make a point, that people know they're out there doing this and they're thinking about them," Chuck Hague said.

An eight-year Army veteran, Hague had heard of the need from a friend, a senior non-commissioned officer in Afghanistan thinking of his troops.

"They're younger guys who don't have money, access or iPads where they could Skype," Hague said.

"They have to wait to get on a computer and have a time limit. So we reached out for help, and Mike stepped up to the plate."

Not for the first time, either.

The Nobles recently donated $6,000 to help the Manatee Hurricane cheerleaders buy rings commemorating the Class 2A state title they won last February.

His motivation for this gesture was much more personal.

He and his wife included a letter with each iPad, too, telling the recipients this was one combat veteran's gift to another.

Nobles said he got choked up when he saw a YouTube video showing some of the iPads being given out to appreciate soldiers.

"I just know it's a form of communication and that's what you miss the most," he said. "I wish I could've sent a hundred, but at least we could do something to make somebody's Christmas a little brighter."

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix

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