17 January 2008

On the undying service to goals larger than self

“The danger that was in front of him was less important than the men behind him."
- John Gabel, about his son SSG Michael Gabel.

First Sgt. Richard Howell remembers parts of a conversation before Staff Sgt. Michael Gabel left the rear detachment for the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team and headed downrange.

Gabel said something about the possibility of donating a portion of his $400,000 Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance policy to help the rear detachment pay for flowers at memorial services.

Gabel was serving as platoon sergeant for soldiers inprocessing into Vicenza before they were sent to Afghanistan.

On 12 December 2007, Michael Gabel was killed in action in Kunar Province along with Cpl. Joshua Charles Blaney. Pfc. Brian Gorham died a few weeks later from wounds sustained in the same attack.

Howell soon learned that Gabel had followed through with his thoughts. He donated 3 percent of the settlement to Howell and another 3 percent to Sgt. 1st Class Michael Arroyo, the rear detachment’s operations noncommissioned officer. The $24,000 was to be used for flowers and a party for the rear detachment at the end of the deployment.
Howell said it’s the first time in 22 years of service that he’s heard of a soldier donating a portion of his death benefits to support his home base.

"I will not be bitter. I will not shed a tear of sorrow. I am proud to have known such a good man and a warrior to the bitter end. Until we see each other again, sky soldiers!"

- SSG Michael Gabel, during his eulogy for fellow 173rd ABCT Paratrooper SSG Larry Rougle killed in Operation Rock Avalanche, delivered just two months before his own death.

Click here for more 173rd ABCT Afghanistan posts.

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