Gabriel A. Puchalla, age 18, of Olathe, KS, passed away suddenly of an aortic rupture on March 10, 2023, while on base in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Gabriel was born on March 19, 2004, in Overland Park, KS, to Donald Puchalla and Dana Puchalla. He grew up with his three younger siblings there and attended St. Michael the Archangel Catholic School through eighth grade.
Gabriel led a faith-filled life and was actively involved in his parish. He enjoyed singing in the youth choir and participating in track and field where he excelled in throwing the shot put. While in grade school, Gabriel became involved in the Boy Scouts of America. This is where his desire for brotherhood began and lifelong friendships were formed. It was in the Scouting program that he deepened his desire to help others, becoming an example of servitude and leadership. He embodied the Boy Scout oath through his duty to both God and country which would serve him in his future life decisions. Gabriel moved through the Scout ranks, ultimately earning the designation of Eagle Scout in May 2021.
Gabriel attended high school at St. James Academy where he was a varsity letterman in wrestling, earning a trip to State his senior year. During high school, Gabriel excelled in history, finding his passion specifically in American History and World Wars. Although a quiet student, Gabriel found his voice whenever the conversation turned to these topics. As a junior, Gabriel marched himself to the local recruiting office where he made the decision to pre-enlist in the United States Marine Corps. He became intensely focused on developing the qualities needed to attain this goal, balancing his school activities while regularly attending physical training with other Marine recruits.
After graduating high school in 2022, Gabriel attended boot camp at the MCRD in San Diego, California. During boot camp,he earned his Marine Corps Rifle Expert qualification badge. He graduated in September 2022 with the promotional rank of Private First Class. He completed his training at both Camp Pendleton and Twenty-Nine Palms in California before joining the fleet at his permanent duty station at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. While at Camp Lejeune, Gabriel worked as a Radio Field Operator and was promoted to Lance Corporal on March 2, 2023.
Gabriel had an unwavering love for God, country, and family. His fraternity through Scouts and wrestling was fully realized with his final brotherhood in the United States Marine Corps. He possessed a quiet strength and a warrior mentality, persevering through any challenge set before him.
He protected his family in ways that might otherwise go unnoticed. For example, while walking down the night streets of Washington D.C., he quickly assessed a situation and fearlessly placed himself between his siblings and potential harm. His bravery was admirable. Gabriel maintained a sense of humility, making sure others received credit before himself. He had a kind and loving nature with an innate ability to sense when someone needed reassurance or one of his well-known bear hugs. He had a quirky sense of humor and an irresistible smile. He loved fiercely and will be missed deeply by those who knew him.
Gabriel’s memory lives on with his mother Dana Puchalla, father Donald Puchalla, sisters Grace and Gianna, brother Gavin, grandfather Donald Ramold, and numerous aunts, uncles,and cousins. His passing leaves a void in the hearts of his many friends and fellow Marines.
He was preceded in death by his grandparents, Patricia Ramold and Vivian and Elmer Puchalla.
A rosary and visitation will be held on Thursday, March 23, 2023, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church located at 14251 Nall Avenue in Leawood, Kan.
The funeral Mass is scheduled for noon on Saturday, March 25, 2023, also at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Leawood, KS.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Gabriel Puchalla Memorial Scholarship to St. James Academy at GoFundMe or the Marine Parents Travel Assistance fund at MarineParents.com.
The Marine Parents Travel Assistance is an IRS-approved public charity eligible to receive tax-deductible donations.
The Travel Assistance fund provides travel expense assistance to families with financial need wanting to attend their Marine recruit’s bootcamp graduation and Family Day celebration.