Character. Inventor. Mechanic. Husband. Father. Soldier.
Sergeant Joshua J. Strickland was all of these things and more, his fellow Special Forces members said during the Soldiers memorial service Oct. 10 at JBLM Lewis North Chapel.
Jay always talked about his family because they were his passion, and he loved them, said Spc. Amanda Lopez, who served with Strickland in the Group Support Battalion motor pool. He couldnt wait to go home every day to play with his three kids.
Strickland was killed in Afghanistan while taking part in range exercises, according to Department of Defense accounts. Strickland was on his first deployment overseas since he enlisted in June 2008.
Strickland loved his job as a wheeled vehicle mechanic in the motor pool, Lopez said. He was good at taking random parts and inventing things out of them.
Lopez said Strickland had a 1966, painter-gray-and-rust-colored Ford F-100 pickup that he always worked on.
Though it seemed like it was in no condition to drive, he always seemed to find a way to get the engine started and drive to work, Lopez said. During lunch, he would usually ask anyone if they wanted to go out, but wed usually decline because no one wanted to ride in that old truck.
Stricklands platoon commander, Capt. Angel Caraballo, said the Soldier, who volunteered for the deployment to Afghanistan, had the nerve, courage and perseverance to stand up for what he believed in.
He was a warrior who stood tall, Caraballo said, but he also was the first to say hello, and offer a helping hand to his fellow Soldiers.
Quiet laughter arose from the overflowing chapel when Lopez told the story of Stricklands sledgehammer, which he painted gold and named Thor.
He would always go around the motor pool swinging it, she said. Whenever one of us asked to borrow a hammer, he would always insist we ask for Thor.
Part of that boisterous persona came from Stricklands home state of Texas.
He always acted like it was perfect, Lopez said with a smile. Every time something negative was said about Texas, he would get very dramatic and give a list of reasons why Texas was the promised land.
Colonel Max Carpenter, the 1st SFGs deputy commander, said Strickland was a motivator with an infectious attitude.
He was a popular guy, a funny guy, Carpenter said after the ceremony. He was one of those guys people just gravitate to.
The Soldiers of the motor pool gathered earlier in the month to enjoy the memories they have together of the young Soldier. However, as to what happened to Thor, Carpenter said he wasnt quite sure.
Theyll probably put it into a plaque, he said.