|From The Marietta Daily Journal mdjonline.com
Official: Woodstock man killed while serving in Afghanistan
by Joshua Sharpe
September 25, 2013 07:00 AM
A former Etowah High School student and father of three was killed in action Saturday while serving in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.
Spc. Joshua “Jay” Strickland, 23, of Woodstock, died along with two other American soldiers in Gardez, Afghanistan, after the three were shot by an Afghan soldier, said Lt. Col. David Simons, spokesperson for the International Security Assistance Force.
Simons, a member of the Georgia Air National Guard, said Tuesday the Afghan soldier turned his gun on the Americans and was “immediately” killed by another Afghan for taking the shots.
“(The Afghan soldier) opened up and was taken out by one of his officers,” Simons said.
Strickland was a member of the U.S Army’s Special Operations and was assigned to Group Support Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group Airborne. He was stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.
The Woodstock man’s body arrived back on American soil Monday night at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, said Maj. Allison Aguilar, spokesperson for U.S. Army Special Forces.
As of late afternoon Tuesday, Aguilar said she was not aware of what the funeral arrangements would be or where Strickland’s remains would be sent.
Nick Maddox of Woodstock, a now-grieving friend of Strickland, also said Tuesday he was waiting to hear where and when the funeral for Strickland would take place.
“Wherever it’s being done, there’s a big group of us that’s flying out to meet the family,” said Maddox, who attended Etowah High School with Strickland.
Maddox said he and Strickland remained close after Strickland enlisted in the Army in 2008.
“We hung out all the time until he and his brother joined the Army,” he said. “Everybody was real close-knit. Since then, he’s been married and has three kids.”
So far, Maddox said Strickland’s family is doing as well as possible with the loss.
“You can only imagine getting news that your son or you brother or your husband is not coming home,” he said. “That’s a really unexplainable pain to be able to go through and face.”
Another friend of Strickland’s, J.D. Hendrix, remembers Strickland as a hard worker who loved his family.
“I never met any of his kids or his wife, but he always talked about them with such love and you could always tell everything he did was for them,” said Hendrix, who met Strickland when they worked together at a restaurant in 2007.
While working at the restaurant, Hendrix said he was taken with Strickland’s good humor and strong work ethic.
“I saw him as a leader,” Hendrix said. “He may not have struck many at that age or that time as someone with leadership potential, but he was. He was, and in my mind still is, one of the hardest working people I know. He was always working harder than anyone else.”
Hendrix said that impression Strickland made will last.
“I hope that his wife and children will be as OK as they can be and understand their father was and always will be a hero,” he said.
Strickland graduated from Etowah High School in 2008, one year after 24-year-old state Rep. Michael Caldwell (R-Woodstock).
Caldwell said Tuesday that he never got the chance to know Strickland, but heard his name around school.
“I didn’t know him personally, but knew of him,” Caldwell said. “Our hearts go out to his family and friends. We’re very saddened, but thankful to a fellow Etowah alumnus for giving the ultimate sacrifice in protection of our liberties.”
|From The Woodstock-TowneLake Patch woodstock.patch.com
Mother: Joshua Strickland Wanted Career in Military
The family of SPC Joshua J. Strickland hopes to bury the soldier from Woodstock by the end of next week in Washington state.
Posted by Kristal Dixon (Editor) , September 28, 2013 at 05:30 AM
Even when he was a child, Joshua Strickland knew he would grow up and serve in the military.
His mother Beth Strickland Funk said Jay, which she affectionately called her son, came from a long line of family members who served their country and he planned to do the same.
"He grew up knowing nothing but patriotism and loving America," she said, adding her son was "compelled" to follow in the footsteps of his ancestors.
Strickland, at the age of 23, died on Sept. 21 fulfilling his lifelong dream of serving in the United States Army.
Strickland, who was assigned to Group Support Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, was killed when enemy forces attacked his unit while they were performing range training.
Strickland on Sept. 23 returned to the states in a dignified transfer at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where his mother said his body remains.
His brother, a member of the United States Marine Corps, on Monday will fly to Dover to escort his brother's body back to Seattle.
Funk, who resides in Texas, said her sons should arrive back to the west coast by Wednesday.
The family is in the midst of making funeral arrangements, which Funk said will take place in Washington state. She noted she hopes the family can lay their beloved to rest by the end of next week.
Strickland leaves behind a wife, one son and two stepchildren.
The news of Strickland's death rocked the Woodstock and Towne Lake community. Many residents expressed their sorrows and support for the family on Woodstock-Towne Lake Patch's Facebook page.
Funk said those outpourings of support have not fallen on deaf ears.
"They are the ones who are carrying us through right now," she added of those expressing their grief.
As he grew older, Funk said her son's determination to join the military never wavered, and it solidified after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists attacks. She recalled that when her son graduated from bootcamp, he commented on how he was looking forward to making a career out of the military.
Strickland completed his education at Etowah High School in 2008. He shipped out to begin his service in June 2008, and Funk said her son absolutely loved serving in the military.
Growing up, Strickland was always the "life of the party."
"He was an amazing kid," she said. "He would give the shirt off his back to anybody. His smile would just brighten the room. He was always happy."
Funk said Strickland's youth pastor also shared those same sentiments, recalling the young man as one who had a smile that lit up the room.
As the family prepares to say their final goodbyes, Strickland said the U.S. Army has been "taking such good care for us" in helping the family with the arrangements.
She also noted the Woodstock and Cherokee County community has also been nothing short of selfless in their messages to the family.
"I can’t put it into the words my graduate for the support and love that has been given to my family," she added.