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A memorial ceremony has been set for Wednesday at Caserma Ederle to honor two soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade who were killed Wednesday in Afghanistan.

Staff Sgt. Michael J. Gabel, 30, of Crowley, La., and Cpl. Joshua C. Blaney, 25, of Matthews, N.C., were killed when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb near Forward Operating Base Curry in Paktika province.

The ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. in the base chapel for the two members of the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment. Gabel and Blaney are the 22nd and 23rd soldiers based in Vicenza to die since the brigade deployed in May. Five other soldiers from the brigade who were based in Germany have also died since May.

According to an online report from The State (S.C.), Blaney had wanted to be a soldier since he was young.

“He would pitch a tent and play Army with his uncle who was in the Special Forces,” his mother, Diane Massey, told the paper.

She said her son jumped into northern Iraq with the brigade in 2003 and was wounded later in the tour by a roadside bomb. But he returned to action and served with the brigade on its first rotation into Afghanistan and was serving his second stint there this year.

Blaney’s grandfather served in the Army Air Corps in World War II and his stepfather, Eric, was in the Air Force, the report said. He is also survived by two sisters, Amy and Carley.

No further information could be found online about Gabel.


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