Obituary for Gabbett

Published in the Albuquerque Journal on Sunday January 28, 2001

Michael F. Gabbett, 81, a resident of Albuquerque for 41 years, passed away on Friday, January 26, 2001. He was a beloved husband, father,"Opa" and friend. Gabbett was born on August 5, 1919, in Philadelphia. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1940, beginning a 20-year career. He was a survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. In 1943, he answered President Roosevelt's call for volunteers for"a dangerous and hazardous mission" and became a member of Merrill's Marauders, the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional.) This elite unit fought under unspeakable conditions in the Burmese jungle. Gabbett designed the unit's patch, worn today by the 75th Infantry (Rangers.) From 1949 to 1960, he was an investigator for the Criminal Investigation Division in Germany, an accomplishment of which he was very proud. He retired from the Army as a Master Sergeant in 1960 at Sanda Base. In 1985, he wrote and self-published a book,"The Bastards of Burma." As he wrote on the back cover of his book,"The Marauders proved time and again that the human spirit could prevail when called upon." Gabbett's own spirit and tenacity allowed him to prevail against a host of physical ailments right up to the end of his life. Days before his passing at the Veterans Administration US Hospital, Gabbett rapid-fired three jokes in a row at his doctors, prompting one of them to remark,"Everyone walks out of this room laughing." Way to go, Dad. He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Elfriede; son, Thomas Gabbett; daughter, Patricia Gabbett Snow and husband, Brian, and children, Michael, Megan and Kasey; daughter, Maureen Gabbett of Cape May, N.J., and children, Lisa and Bill; and many friends and caring neighbors. He was preceded in death by a son, Michael H. Gabbett, in 1971. His greatest joy in recent years was spending time with his namesake 3-year-old grandson, Michael. Gabbett was a member of the Edelweiss am Rio Grande German American Club, the American Legion, the RoaDrunner Basha CBI, and the Merrill's Marauders Association. Arrangements for a memorial service are pending.