POLK CITY, IA, USA U.S. Army CSM, JOINT FORCES HEADQUARTERS, FORWARD 14, FORT BLISS, TX BAGHDAD, IRAQ 01/20/2007
THE AMES TRIBUNE, Ames, Story County, Iowa, Sunday, January 28, 2007.
Command Sergeant Major Marilyn Lea Gabbard, 46, of Polk City, Iowa and formerly of Boone and Waterloo, was killed Saturday, January 20, 2007 when the UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter in which she was a passenger crashed northeast of Baghdad, Iraq.
Marilyn was born Oct. 29, 1960, in Boone, the daughter of Melvin Lee and Mary Lou (Banford) Van Cannon. She graduated from Boone High School in 1979. She had lived most all her life in Boone and some years in Waterloo. She married Edward Deloy Gabbard on March 16, 1990, in Waterloo.
She began her 27-year military career as a private in the Iowa Army National Guard on October 28, 1979, serving as a personnel management specialist with Detachment 2, 47th Adjutant General Company, Boone, Iowa. She last served as the State Operations Sergeant Major at the Iowa National Guard’s Joint Forces Headquarters in Johnston.
Upon her promotion to Command Sergeant Major on April 1, 2001, she became the Iowa National Guard’s first female Command Sergeant Major and only the second woman promoted to Sergeant Major in the Iowa National Guard. Among her military decorations were three awards of the Meritorious Service Medal, which is bestowed to “members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguished themselves by outstanding non-combat meritorious achievement or service to the United States.”
She deployed from Iowa on December 16, 2006, assuming her duties as the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of the National Guard Affairs Team in Baghdad, Iraq, on December 26, 2006.
She also had served as the national secretary for the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States, as past president (Army) of the Enlisted Association of the Iowa National Guard and as past president of the Iowa Sergeants Major Association. She was a member of the American Legion of Boone and Polk City. She enjoyed spending time with her grandchildren. She also enjoyed scuba diving, snorkeling, roller coasters, fishing, golfing and playing card games with family.
She was preceded in death by her father and her grandparents. She is survived by her husband, Edward D. Gabbard; one daughter, Melissa Danielson, and her husband, Ben; one step-son, Terry Gabbard, and his wife, Cathy; step-daughters Sherri Gabbard, Kerri Wilson and husband Rick, Gerri Gabbard, Mari Jo Scott and husband Harold, Deborah Pommier and husband Michael; her mother, Mary Van Cannon; her sister, Marla Norem; her brothers, Mark Van Cannon and Mike Van Cannon and his wife, Carol; her grandchildren, Benjamin and Austin Danielson; and step-grandchildren, Paul Gabbard, Sunnie Robinson and husband Sean, Christopher Gabbard, Cassandra, Brianne and Courtney Wilson, Jessica and Jeremy Scott, and Kayla Pommier.