By Staff Sgt. David Hopkins, Soldiers Magazine contributorMay 5, 2008
All Soldiers, especially those who are deploying, want to know that if anything happens to them their families will be taken care of.
One Soldier went beyond caring for his family when he left $20,000 of his life insurance to members of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team's rear detachment.
Staff Sgt. Michael Gabel, of the 173rd's Company D, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry, died of wounds he received in combat in Afghanistan in December.
"It isn't a surprise that he donated the money to the rear detachment, because of the kind of person he was," 1st Sgt. Richard Howell, 173rd South rear detachment first sergeant, said of Gabel. "But it is surprising that he snuck it past us and went through with putting it in his will."
The donation originated as a way to help pay for flowers for memorial services, but is turning into a way to take care of injured Soldiers.
"When the brigade first started getting casualties we were unable to get the government to pay for flowers for the memorial ceremonies," said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Arroyo, S-3 NCOIC. "We had to pass a hat to get the money, but before Staff Sgt. Gabel deployed he came to me and mentioned that he wanted to do something so the rear detach ment wouldn't have to pay anymore."
After Gabel's death the rear detach ment discovered the government would pay for the flowers. The money Gabel donated will now go for a different cause, but the rear-detachment leaders are still working out the details.
"We want to make it so wounded Soldiers get some comforts when they are recovering from their injuries," Ar royo said. "We're working something out so the interest from the money goes toward helping Soldiers without de pleting the original donation amount."
It may have been a surprise that Gabel actually went through with the loss, Gabel did all he could to help. He helped organize things here on post, but he also made sure families were taken care of by donating his time to mow lawns and help with other house hold chores."
"He'll be remembered as being a great person, noble and righteous. From small things to big, he took care of people," Arroyo said.