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A Navy Recruiter’s Call To Service
by U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joshua Keim
November 28, 2019

He had a short list; law enforcement, fireman or U.S. Navy Sailor. Above all else, Michael DiGabriele felt a call to serve his country and fellow person. The humdrum carpet, banal furniture and barren walls, tell the story perfectly. His focus isn’t shallow. His dedication to service is relentless and takes priority over all his surroundings.

He was raised in Clearwater, Florida, and from the beginning, his family brought him up to help those in need. His mother and brother both work as nurses and care for those in need. Perhaps the strongest influence in shaping DiGabriele’s life purpose was his father, John DiGabriele, who served in the Korean War as a B-26 Bomber’s tail gunner. His father’s life had a profound impact on him, and he grew up watching old war movies, cultivating his strong patriotism from an early age.

“My life didn’t actually come together until I joined the Navy,” said Mass Communication Specialist Third Class Michael DiGabriele. “Peace comes once you finally do what you always wanted to do.”

September 2, 2019 - Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael DiGabriele, a recruiter at Navy Talent Acquisition Group Houston, rests on the fishing dock at White Lake in Sugar Land, Texas. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joshua Keim)
September 2, 2019 - Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael DiGabriele, a recruiter at Navy Talent Acquisition Group Houston, rests on the fishing dock at White Lake in Sugar Land, Texas. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joshua Keim)

 He joined the Navy Reserve in late 2016 as a Mass Communication Specialist, and it wasn’t long before he found his way into recruiting for Navy Talent Acquisition Group (NTAG) Houston. Bringing new talent into the Navy, and showing young men and women all the Navy has to offer, became his calling.

“I want to help people, and I know I’m doing a good thing by giving people goals and the means for a successful future,” he said. “It’s easy for me to put myself in their shoes because I know what it’s like to come from nothing, to be broke, and to feel like you’re wasting time in your life.”

Confident and motivated, DiGabriele speaks effortlessly to young talent about the Navy, and shows them “there is a place in their life for service in the Navy.”

Now a father of an 11-year-old son and with another child on the way, he laughs about recruiting his son into the Navy and sending him to boot camp on his 15th birthday. He also spends time watching the same old war movies with his son, hoping to instill in him the same passion for service to others that his father infused in him.

More than anything, DiGabriele wants to be a positive role model for his children and his fellow Sailors, and he’d like to pursue his passion full-time as an active-duty Sailor.

“The minute I got to my reserve unit, I was planning my next move,” he said, “and I knew the best way to get on active duty was to kick butt at my job. I was willing to go anywhere, and I was volunteering for everything.”

As a reservist filling a definite recall billet, DiGabriele is assuming an active-duty role, but his activation time is limited and it won’t be long before he must return to his civilian job. By filling a leading petty officer role, meant for two paygrades higher than his current paygrade, and by having important collateral duties, awards and off-duty education courses, DiGabriele is priming himself for leadership roles and selection for full-time active duty status.

His work is exceptional, and his chain of command has noticed.

“DiGabriele is phenomenal,” said Cmdr. Mary Decker, executive officer of NTAG Houston. “This year so far, he has been recognized numerous times for his outstanding ability to meet and exceed mission goals. He is a leader who is always ready to assume greater responsibility … and he brings a refreshing and positive attitude that inspires everyone around him.”

One thing is certain, DiGabriele has a profound impact on those he works with and on the Sailors’ paths he helped forge in the Navy he adores. DiGabriele’s barren office walls have plenty of room for his award plaques and pictures but he says for now, “office decorations can wait.”

NTAG Houston has 31 talent acquisition sites covering more than 25,000 square miles in rural and metropolitan areas around Houston and Western Louisiana. For more information on NTAG Houston, visit: https://www.cnrc.navy.mil/pages-nrd/houston/default.html.

Navy Recruiting Command consists of a command headquarters, three Navy Recruiting Regions, 17 Navy Recruiting Districts and nine Navy Talent Acquisition Groups that serve more than 1,330 recruiting stations across the world. Their combined goal is to attract the highest quality candidates to assure the ongoing success of America’s Navy.

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