Friends of Marilyn Gabbard say her death not only leaves a void in the Iowa National Guard, but also in the Polk City community where she lived. The 46-year-old Gabbard was the first woman Command Sergeant Major in the Iowa Guard, and died Saturday in a helicopter crash while on duty in Iraq.
Lee Booten, the adjutant at the American Legion Post 232 in Polk City, says Gabbard cared about the post and the community. Booten says Gabbard’s husband Ed, a retired guardmember, was also active in the post. Booten says: "They’re just great people, and when you’re in a small community, you help each other. And she would, she’d come in."
Gabbard was on a six-month mission that began in December and her specialty was helping soldiers deal with the many issues they faced while on active duty. Booten says American Legion Post 232 members and others in the Polk City community will all feel Gabbard’s loss too. Booten says: "We’re a small community up there and it’s gonna be pretty sad, because it’s one of ours." Booten says the members in the post consider each other family, and care about each other. Gabbard is a Boone native, and is believed to be the first woman Iowa guardmember killed in combat.