A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Michael John Gabel graduated from Robert E. Lee High School. He later enrolled in the Louisiana Culinary Institute, graduating with honors. He enlisted in the Army in April of 2000 as an infantryman. He attended basic training and airborne school at Fort Benning, Georgia. Initially assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, Specialist Gabel volunteered after the 2001 terrorist attacks for assignment to an Anti-Tank Company deploying to Afghanistan. He later deployed as a squad leader in the chaotic Sunni Triangle of Iraq. After reenlistment, he joined the 173rd Airborne Brigade and returned to Afghanistan. A back injury forced him to remain in an administrative role at the company HQ in Vicenza, Italy, in 2007. In this role, he assisted military families and oversaw readiness training for newly arrived personnel. Returning to combat in October of 2007, Staff Sergeant Gable was killed in action on December 12, 2007. His final act was to leave more than $20,000 of his life insurance to his unit's rear detachment to help care for wounded soldiers. Among his awards, SSgt. Gable received the Purple Heart (2) and the Bronze Star (2).