Sergeant First Class Gabe Garcia, US Army
Gabe Garcia was born and raised near Phoenix and Yuma, Arizona. Following high school, he enlisted in the Army and attended boot camp at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, in 2002. He then went on to Fort Gordon, Georgia, to become a signal support systems specialists. After serving a 15-month tour in Baghdad, Iraq, he re-enlisted and reclassified his military occupational specialty (MOS) to Infantry. Upon completion of Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia, in 2005, Gabe deployed to Iraq for 12 months as an infantry team leader. In 2008, he deployed for a third time; this time to Kandahar, Afghanistan. His company was tasked with establishing a presence in an area which was a longtime Taliban stronghold.
On January 8, 2009, while conducting a dismounted patrol, Gabe was struck directly by a suicide bomber. The explosion took his right arm above the elbow, damaged the vision in his right eye, and caused severe hip and knee trauma and a fractured pelvis. Two long years of recovery followed, spent mostly at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center near Washington D.C., where Gabe received a prosthetic arm and months of physical therapy. While in the hospital, Gabe met with a Sentinels of Freedom ambassador and was accepted as a scholarship recipient in 2011. Upon discharge, he returned home to Arizona to attend college, and he graduated with his B.B.A. in Finance from Arizona State University in 2015.
Sentinels of Freedom was instrumental in pairing Gabe with a special internship opportunity at General Dynamics C4 Systems in Scottsdale from where he attained full-time employment after graduation, now working for the company as a program finance analyst. Gabe and his wife Christina currently live in Phoenix where they stay very busy raising their two young sons. Garcia’s service decorations include: Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, two Meritorious Service Medals, Combat Infantry Badge, Expert Infantry Badge, and Pathfinder Badge.
“Sentinels of Freedom has been an invaluable part of my life since my injury. In a time of uncertainty, SOF was there to assure me that all would be well. The support I have received has made a direct impact in my growth as a student and professional, and I view the Sentinels as my extended family for they provide me with support and motivation. I realize I have been granted a unique opportunity by receiving the Sentinels of Freedom Scholarship, and for that, I’m forever indebted. . . I’d like to thank the Foundation for believing in me enough to invest in my future.”