A military intelligence expert born in Waterbury was killed Nov. 18 in Fallujah when his vehicle was struck by an explosive device, military officials announced Wednesday.
Army Sgt. Joseph Michael Nolan, 27, was born in Waterbury and graduated from Wolcott High School, where he played football, said his uncle, John Nolan. He was one of three children.
From Connecticut, Nolan moved to Philadelphia to attend St. Joseph's University, his uncle said. Joseph was known to family members as "Joey'' because his father is also named Joseph. A linguist, he began reading military books at age 10 and was fascinated with international affairs.
"He speaks Arabic," John Nolan said.
Nolan was assigned to the 312th Military Intelligence Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, from Fort Hood, Texas, the governor's office and family said.
Gov. M. Jodi Rell ordered state flags to fly at half-staff until Nolan's burial.
"I extend my deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Sgt. Nolan," Rell said in a statement. "As we prepare to mark this most American of holidays, I ask everyone to pause and offer a special word of Thanksgiving for the men and women who risk their lives to guarantee our freedoms."
Nolan's father, an ex-Marine, and his brother and sister were gathering in Philadelphia on Wednesday, John Nolan said. He said his nephew's body has arrived in the United States.
He said family members had been traveling in Rome when the explosion happened.
"It took some time to notify the next of kin," said Lt. Col. John Whitford, a spokesman for the Connecticut National Guard. "They were out of country on vacation."
Nolan was the 18th person with Connecticut ties to be killed in Iraq or Afghanistan since March of 2002.