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'Sky Soldier' Michael Gabel Killed in Afghanistan

Army Staff Sgt. Michael Gabel, 30, was killed last week in Afghanistan. In a story NPR aired last month, Gabel spoke eloquently about the loss of his best friend in the line of duty.

At the memorial service for three U.S. Army paratroopers who died in Kunar province, Gabel delivered a moving eulogy for his comrade, Larry Rougle. Holding back tears, he told the crowd, "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!"

On Dec. 12, Gabel died in a roadside bomb blast. He was in the lead vehicle of a convoy securing a stretch of road in the southeastern Paktika Province.

The Baton Rouge native, who enlisted in the Army in 2000, was serving as a Sky Trooper with 173rd Airborne brigade. It was his third tour in Afghanistan. He had also served in Iraq.

His brother David Gabel said Michael had planned to re-enlist next year so he could serve more time in Afghanistan, a country that he loved.

"My brother believed in Afghanistan," David Gabel said. "He really wanted to see schools, jobs and opportunities brought to the country. It was his third tour in Afghanistan, and the job there was unfinished."

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