Spc. Joshua “Jay” Strickland, 23, one of three soldiers reportedly shot and killed by an Afghan soldier Sept. 21 during a training exercise in Gardez, will be buried at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent, Wash., after his body is transported from Dover Air Base in Delaware, his mother Beth Strickland Funk said Monday.
The fallen soldier’s younger brother Caleb, who is a U.S. Marine, is personally escorting his brother to Kent, which is outside Tacoma where the fallen soldier’s wife and child two stepchildren live, Funk said.
Funk said the Army is arranging her flight to the funeral in Washington from Texas, where she now lives after moving from Woodstock in 2008.
The Army also has assigned several casualty support specialists to help the family with the loss, Funk said.
“They’ve been really amazing,” she said. “Every question we’ve had, they’ve been there at the drop of a hat.”
With the sudden loss of her son just last weekend, Funk said there have been many questions.
But she and the rest of her family, including Strickland’s twin brother, have been doing the best they can to adjust to the reality of their lost loved one.
“One foot in front of the other, one day at a time,” she said. “I’ve been having my moments of breakdowns where I’ll cry 10, 15 minutes at a time. I haven’t had a huge period of crying yet.”
Knowing that Strickland died fulfilling his life-long dream of serving his country, though, has made the entire process at least somewhat more bearable for the family, Funk said.
“That was the first thing my brother and my father reminded me of — if he was going to go, he went doing what he loved,” she said. “He loved the military.”
Funk said her son’s funeral is planned to reflect his love for the military and his country.
After the funeral, which is being held at Yahn and Son Funeral Home in Auburn, Wash., the military is planning another service Oct. 10 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington and will be flying Funk up for that event as well.