Christopher D. Strickland – Staff Sergeant, United States Marine Corps

U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Release


DoD Identifies Marine Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Staff Sergeant Christopher D. Strickland, 25, of Labelle, Florida, died June 25, 2008, while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, California.

A Camp Pendleton Marine sergeant is one of the latest victims of the escalating violence in Afghanistan, perishing Wednesday in a roadside bombing in the country's Helmand province, the Defense Department announced late Thursday.

Staff Sergeant Christopher D. Strickland was on his third combat assignment when he was killed, according to information provided by a Camp Pendleton public affairs officer.

Strickland, 25, a native of Labelle, Florida, was assigned to the 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force.

He was an ordnance disposal technician assigned to the 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group at Camp Pendleton, a base spokesman said Friday. It was not immediately clear if his death was related to his job.

The base spokesman said Strickland was filling a vacancy with the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment from Twentynine Palms in the Mojave Desert.

That unit and one from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, have been in Afghanistan since early spring as part of an increase in Marine Corps forces sent there to help other U.S. and NATO military units deal with a rise in violence.

The 3,200 Marines sent to Afghanistan this year represents the first large-scale deployment from that branch of the military since shortly after the fall of the Taliban after the invasion in 2001.

Strickland was on his second combat assignment in Afghanistan. He also served on tour in Iraq and would have celebrated his ninth year in the Marine Corps on July 23, 2008.

Efforts to reach family members were not immediately successful, but WINK television in Florida reported that he had joined the Marine Corps at age 17 shortly after graduating high school.

The station's Web site carried a story that said Strickland was married and the father of a 3-year-old son. It also said he would be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

On Tuesday, Beth Church lost her only son, 25-year-old Marine Staff Sergeant Christopher Strickland in combat.

He was serving his fifth tour of duty, this time in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan.

It was also Strickland's dream as a young man to serve his country and follow in his step-father's footsteps.

Church recalls the day she signed the papers for her then 17-year-old son, a recent high school graduate, to join the Marines.

“I said is this what you want to do and he said yes mama, I want to be a Marine and as I'm signing the papers, I'm crying my eyes out because I knew I just gave him away,” said Church.

But that's what her son wanted. She says a child left that day, but a man returned home to her.

In the last e-mail he sent her, Christopher was planning a trip for her to visit him California when he returned home. He wanted her to see the life he built with his wife and three year old son.

It is a a trip that will never come.

“He's in a better place than we are and they're playing taps for him in heaven,” said Church.

She still wears a gold necklace he bought for her after joining the Marines.

It's a soldier's mother's pendant that she wears everyday, “The gold hearts represent mother and the diamond, the strongest bond.”

“I don't wear nothing else, It's my baby's…my baby gave it to me,” she said as she clutched the small pendant.

Staff Sergeant Christopher Strickland will be laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. A memorial service is in the works in LaBelle for next Saturday.

Sergeant Strickland was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery on 11 July 2008.

DATE OF BIRTH: 07/07/1982
DATE OF DEATH: 06/25/2008


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