An Iowa National Guard soldier was laid to rest today in central Iowa. Soldiers and family members filled the Boone High School gym for the funeral of 46-six-year-old Command Sergeant Major Marilyn Gabbard of Polk City. Chaplain Gary Selof talked about the life of one of the state’s most accomplished soldiers.

Selof says Gabbard’s mother described her as a fighter from the start as she was a twin born prematurely and spent the first six months in the hospital. He says from the beginning Gabbard was already helping people as she stayed in the hospital, even though she was ready to go home, so she could help her twin sister Marla get well.

Gabbard graduated from Boone High School in 1979 and joined the National Guard that same year, Selof says, much to the dismay of her father. But he says in time, Gabbard’s father said, "Marilyn has finally found what she wants to do."

Selof says Gabbard worked for everything she earned in the guard. Gabbard began her career in the Iowa National Guard as a private and went on become the first woman Command Sergeant Major. Selof says the rank did not come to Gabbard because she was a woman, but because " she earned it." Selof says Gabbard "was a very good soldier" with a "can do" attitude, and she loved helping soldiers. Selof says Gabbard made an impact in the short time she was in Iraq, and continued helping others right up to the time she died on January 20th in a helicopter crash.

Selof says in time such as this the question that arises is "Why?" Selof says it’s a legitimate question as to why everyone does not live to a ripe old age before they die, but Selof says it’s a question that God does not supply the answer to us. Gabbard is survived by her husband Ed, one daughter, five stepdaughters and one stepson. Gabbard was buried in Madrid.


Audio: Chaplain Gary Selof eulogy of Marilyn Gabbard 11:12 MP3