MISSION TO AFGHANISTAN: National Guard service runs in Gable family
FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHANK — Yerington native Don Gable followed his father’s footsteps to serve in the military. Don Gable Sr. donned the uniform for more than 40 years before he retired a decade ago as a sergeant major. Now, 1st Sgt. Don Gable Jr. has spent almost 27 years in the Nevada Army National Guard and served a prior deployment to Afghanistan seven years ago. Despite the smaller company deployed to FOB Shank, Gable, a 1986 Yerington High School graduate, said he is responsible for the health and welfare of the enlisted soldiers and coordinates and executes the administrative duties of the staff for Bravo Company, 189th General Support Aviation.“I am the voice of the enlisted to the commander,” said Gable, who is also a flight platoon sergeant on one of the CH47Ds.Additionally, he takes care of transportation and damage control and oversees how Nevada soldiers perform their daily maintenance work on helicopters.“This helps me keep control of any situation,” he said.Gable opted to deploy with Bravo Company and transferred back to the unit two years ago. The transition went smoothly because Gable has known many of these guardsmen for years.Since he deployed to Kandahar in 2005, Gable said the two missions to Afghanistan are as different as “day and night.”“We have more threats here,” he pointed out. “Last time in Kandahar was safer. Our missions are also totally different. We do a lot of general support.”Despite the differences, Gable said the key for him and the other soldiers is to do their best and be successful. Although Gable has had prior deployment experience, he said his father is more worried about this one to FOBShank. In 2005, the unit — then known as Company D, 113th Aviation deployed — lost a helicopter with five aboard when it was shot down by an insurgent’s rocket.“He saw what we went through the last time in losing a crew,” Gable said.He takes his father’s leadership style by developing effective communication and being patient with the soldiers and their duties. When something goes wrong, Gable said he takes a deep breath and then looks at the situation.Gable, who now lives in Sparks and works full time for the Nevada Guard, has been married for 22 years and has a 21-year-old daughter. This deployment, he said, has been more difficult for the family. Eventually, though, when Gable returns home, he would like to remain with the unit until he is selected sergeant major, a goal he set years ago.As for the deployment in Afghanistan, Gable said every soldier has excelled.“I have had zero issues with discipline. This is a good, cohesive family, and they communicate very well,” he said, adding he considers the 18-20 Montana guardsmen attached to Bravo Company as part of the family.