Operation Tribute to Freedom

Faces From the Front for May 3, 2010 - 1st Lt. David Strickland

First Lieutenant David Strickland

Current Unit: 596th Movement Control Team
Current Position: Commander
Component: Army Reserve
Current Location: Mosul, Iraq
Hometown: Dallas, Ga.
Years of Service: 26

1st Lt. David Strickland always wanted to serve as both an officer and a paratrooper. After more than two decades of service with the U.S. military, including 10 years in the Marines and retirement as a Master Sergeant from the Air Force Reserve, Strickland's desire for airborne wings and an officer's commission remained unchanged.

“I'm a former Marine turned Airman, who never gave up on my dreams. I chased the gold bar of lieutenant and airborne wings for 27 years,” Strickland said. “I've had these two dreams since becoming the battalion commander of my high school Marine Corps JROTC unit when I was 16 years old.”

After retiring from the Air Force, Strickland was offered the chance for a commission with the U.S. Army Reserve.

“Some would argue that 27 years pursuing a goal is not timely, but I would simply say that by continuing to make small progressive steps towards your goals you keep them within reach,” Strickland said.

With the opportunity at hand, Strickland joined the Army Reserve at 43 and fulfilled his lifelong dream of becoming an officer. From there, he headed off to Airborne School and learned the skills necessary to become paratrooper.

Now Strickland is taking on new challenges in Mosul, Iraq, where he is serving as the commander of 596th Movement Control Team. In this role, Strickland is responsible for all personnel and equipment moving in and out of northern Iraq, ensuring that all supplies reach their destinations in a timely manner and that all civilian and military personnel have the capability of entering and exiting Iraq when necessary.

“Without us, nothing moves,” 1st Lt. Strickland explained. “My teams are responsible for coordinating and tracking all supplies coming into Iraq across the Turkish border and then ensuring that same cargo reaches its final destination elsewhere in Iraq. Our work is important, if the Soldiers need something to accomplish the mission and it isn't supplied in a timely manner then the mission fails.”

While Strickland understands that moving supplies and personnel is important, as it helps the Army to accomplish its mission, the sentimental aspect of sending Soldiers home is not lost on him.

“My flight line ramp is the first and often the last image people will have of Iraq,” Strickland said. “We move civilians and Soldiers in and out of Iraq for their two weeks of leave, and for their initial deployment to Iraq and final redeployment back to the states. It's an awesome feeling, although bittersweet, to be a part of sending so many people back home to their families.”

Serving his deployment in a movement control role has been challenging for Strickland, as his paratrooper training prepared him to complete very different work.

“Deploying as a transportation officer, let alone as the commander of a team, was a huge challenge on even the simplest terms,” Strickland said. “I've worked to overcome this challenge by asking questions and relying on my NCOs and Soldiers who are trained to do this kind of work.”

While transportation is not where Strickland's expertise lie, he has used his leadership skills to ensure that his team is successful in accomplishing their mission.

“I'm an Army officer and leader first so the job doesn't matter,” Strickland said. “I don't need to know how to do my Soldiers' jobs - they do. I need to know how to lead them and provide them with the tools they need to accomplish our mission. If I can do this, they will be successful.”

Strickland is proud of the work his team has accomplished throughout their deployment, but looks forward to returning home to Dallas, Ga., late this year. He plans on spending time with his wife and three children and returning to his job as a senior paralegal at Hawkins and Parnell, a law firm in Atlanta.

“I am married to a wonderful woman who is the real strength of the family,” Strickland said. “My wife, Paula is an inactive technical sergeant in the Air Force Reserve. We understand each other and the things we go through so much better than the traditional couple because we've both 'been there'. She acts as a sounding board for my day to day worries and issues and gives me good advice as only a friend and partner can.”

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