Noble H. Midkiff
The following text was provided by Noble’s grandson, Jason “Jase” Midkiff.
Biography: Noble Hoover Midkiff was born on August 30, 1919, in Whitesville Kentucky. He was born to Heber “Pappy” Midkiff and Della Greer Midkiff, or “Ma’am” as Noble called her. He used to ride his horse to school along with his youngest brother Lincoln. Noble and his 3 brothers and 2 sisters grew up during the Depression years, however they never went hungry because all the children helped around the Western Kentucky farm daily to help with chores.
Before the war, Noble was the lone teacher of a one room school with grades ranging from kindergarten to high school age kids. Noble met and fell in love with his future wife, Ada Tinius. Pappaw said that second kiss tasted like pure wild honey, so he knew she was the one! Somehow Noble just knew he was going to get drafted, so he proposed to Ada and they got married after only a few weeks. The fateful date of their marriage was December 6, 1941. Pearl Harbor was bombed the next day! Noble jokes that “the Japanese made a bigger splash than we did!”
Service Time: Noble Midkiff was drafted June 26 1942. He did basic training at Fort Benning, GA. Noble said he only got to shoot a gun twice while there. He and his fellow soldiers pushed off the States in July 1942. Eighteen days later they landed in Leitchfield England. Shortly after that he landed in North Africa fighting against the Germans in the Constantinople area. Noble said he saw sixty-two men killed in a fatal air raid and he was injured for the first time as well. While in the hospital, Noble said some officers came in and pulled him to be a replacement for the 701st Tank Destroyer Battalion. Noble drove a “half track” for the unit and was proud to say that his outfit was the first to knock out a German tank in the war but the official credit went to another unit.
Noble landed in Italy, in the fall of 1943, under fire from the enemy during the second wave of the Anzio Beachhead Invasion. Noble said he was probably in every major city in Italy over a two year span with highlights of driving his halftrack in front of the Coliseum and seeing Mussolini and his mistress hanging upside down after his own people killed him. July 12th of 1944, is a day I have heard my Pappaw speak of many times. A shell came in on the half-rubble church they were staying in and Noble was wounded the second time. However Noble’s wound was not the worst thing that happened that night, Pappaw had to help dig out his all time best combat friend, “Lil Walt” of New York City, who was killed that night. This is the High Price of Freedom: the sacrifice of those killed in World War II & the nightmares and old war nerves of the Veterans who made it back home safely. Noble has said many times, sadly and proudly, “I am not a Hero. The true heroes of World War II are the ones who never made it back.” I have oftentimes heard Pappaw say that, “There is no greater bond in life than Combat Veterans; especially Combat Wounded Veterans.”
April 17, 1945, is the day Noble says “They about Got me”, when a shell came into the halftrack and he was injured in the head. Two of his comrades were killed instantly and with so much confusion, Noble was knocked unconscious and “laid out for dead” for several hours he believes. All of a sudden one of his Kentucky comrades came running back looking for him and Noble whispered out softly, “I’m over here”. Once Noble was rescued, he spent six days in the hospital and the war ended within a matter of weeks. On July 3, 1945, he started home from Italy.
Noble eventually made it all the way back home to western Kentucky to see his amazing wife
Ada. Noble’s younger brother has joked with family and friends that their first child Becky was
born nine months and thirty minutes after Noble got back from the war! Noble and Ada went on to have three children, from oldest to youngest, Becky, Jane, and James Larry. From these three, Noble and Ada went on to be blessed by seven grandchildren and ten great-granddaughters! Noble continued his education, graduated from Western Kentucky University’s Teacher’s College in 1949. In 1962, he received his Master’s Degree of Arts and Education from the same university.
Noble worked for the Ohio County Board of Education for twenty-five years, working as a Teacher, Principal, and in the Superintendent’s office. His love, wisdom, and discipline truly did help hundred’s of children he had encountered in school. I have witnessed grown men come up to Noble and thank him for helping them to change their lives. When Noble retired from the school, he was happy to retreat back to Ada and his family’s fifty acre farm and woodlands. He raised a tobacco crop every year, along with a huge garden that he shared with family and friends, showed horses competitively with his children. He also enjoyed making almost 3000 cassette tapes with his own original material reflecting on life and his experiences combined with good old time bluegrass, country and Gospel songs, which he was happy to share with his friends and family.
Noble helped me in many ways, but I think perhaps the most special for me is his determination to never give up and to keep on fighting no matter what. This was best observed after losing the love of his life, Ada, who was called up to heaven on May 8, 2004.
Noble wrote a poem for Ada, entitled “She Was There Too”. This speaks of the hard times and medals that both of them endured during the war, for Noble feels that Ada was there too and that the picture he carried of her, and prayer, truly helped him to get back home to her. It also helped him to be “Just a lil’ old man along the side of the road, trying to be a friend to his fellow man.” The picture shown below is the actual photo of Ada that Noble carried in his pocketbook. Here is the poem:
She Was There Too
She spent over 500 days on the front lines. She was with me all three times I was wounded. We never gave up. We shared 5 Combat Battle Star, The Purple Heart with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, E. T. Operation Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, Driver’s Badge (without a single driving accident), during 30 months of Blackout” driving.
She was in North Africa operations of Algeria, French Morocco and Tunisia. The Italy operations she was in were Naples, Foggia, Anzio, Rome and Arno.
The material provided above is what Noble wants to be remembered by his friends and family once he’s gone and called up yonder to be with Ada again and with the Lord. It will be there that all his war nerves and haunts will finally fade away. Thank you Pappaw, Lil Walt, and all your comrades for sacrificing so much so we could live in freedom! Noble Midkiff, you truly are a hero to so many you have helped and touched over the years. As of February 19, 2021, Noble is still alive and kicking at 101, living on the same fifty acre farm he was born and raised on, with the help of his caretaker and son, James Larry.
Sadly, Noble passed away on January 20, 2023. He was buried in the Rosehill Cemetery in Owensboro, KY. Thank you to Jason Midkiff for sharing his grandfather with us.