United States Army Sergeant Jay Strickland lived a short life but friends, family and church leaders will tell you it was an honorable one.
Sgt. Strickland died September 21 from small arms fire in Paktia Province, Afghanistan. In his 23 years of life, Strickland honored his family, his country and his commitments.
"Even all the way back in his teenage years taking a job at a place like Five Guys flipping burgers but he wanted to do it honorably," said Watauga’s Harvest Church Pastor Chuck Angel. "And as a result of the honorable way he served in his job he was made at 17 a shift leader which says something about how he wanted to live his life."
Sgt. Strickland enlisted in the Army in 2008. He followed in his grandfather's footsteps and inspired his young brother to join the military as well.
"We are all very proud of the man Jay became and the ultimate sacrifice he gave all of us,” said Strickland’s uncle while fighting back tears. “I'm reminded in the Bible, John 15:13 where God tells us 'greater love hath no man than this, that he laid down his life for his friends.' Sergeant Joshua J. Strickland, thank you and we love you, too."
A 21-gun salute and release of doves were among the tributes to the young yet highly decorated soldier who leaves behind a wife and three children.
According to the memorial program, Sgt. Strickland was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, the Purple Heart and the Combat Action Badge. He was posthumously promoted to the rank of Sergeant.