U.S. Army Technician Fifth Quality Clifford H. Strickland has been accounted for and will be laid to relaxation in his household city of Fowler, Colorado. (Photograph by Joshua Hoehne/Unsplash. Photograph courtesy of DPAA. Job & Goal composite graphic.).

U.S. Military Technician Fifth Grade Clifford H. Strickland was a person of quite a few who fought in the Battle of Bataan in the course of Entire world War II. Strickland and his fellow soldiers fought for 140 bitter days, expending all their ammunition. 

In the end, they surrendered and became prisoners of war (POW) and ended up pressured into a 65-mile-extended march now regarded as the Bataan Loss of life March. Many died together the way, but Strickland persevered and rallied his comrades. He was only 25 a long time old when he succumbed to malnutrition and illness on July 29, 1942. The official trigger of death listed in his records is malaria and dysentery.

“He made it as much as his body could last, but in these overcrowded positions with inadequate water and undesirable sanitation, so quite a few of all those adult males got unwell,” mentioned Strickland’s nephew, Pastor Clark Baldwin. “The day he was buried, there had been 13 other gentlemen who died with him.”

He, alongside with quite a few other veterans of the Fight of Bataan, was buried in Typical Grave 215 at the Cabanatuan POW camp. Strickland was unaccounted for at the close of WWII, but now, his stays have been recognized, and he’ll ultimately be laid to rest at property. 

He was the oldest surviving member of his household, with an considerable heritage of military services company dating back to the Pequot War in 1636. However quite a few in the relatives didn’t get to meet Strickland, his memory remained alive by way of the letters and tales his many brothers, who also fought in the Philippines, would share with the family. 

“I bear in mind developing up, my mother experienced a Pictorial History of WWII, a 4-volume set,” Baldwin reported. “As a kid, I try to remember always examining these and noticing that my uncle had died serving his place. It&#8217s some thing that is tragic — one thing that leaves an imprint on a household.”

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In 1945, the American Graves Registration Provider (AGRS) exhumed the troops buried at the Cabanatuan cemetery and laid the continues to be to rest in a non permanent U.S. navy mausoleum in close proximity to Manila, Phillippines. Two years later, the AGRS examined the continues to be in an try to identify those from Prevalent Grave 215. 

5 soldiers have been determined, but the relaxation remained mysterious, like Strickland. The unknown stays have been then buried at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial.

The Strickland relatives produced quite a few trips to Manila to find their extended-dropped family member. They photographed Strickland’s identify on the memorial and the countless numbers of unidentified graves. Yrs had gone by, and the overwhelming thought of under no circumstances acquiring him established in. 

Strickland, a indigenous of Fowler, Colorado, was a devout loved ones gentleman who sent letters and money back again house to his loved ones every time he could. Even even though he was away at war, he however acted as an older brother, advocating for his relatives all through wartime. 

“I even bear in mind one particular time, just one of the letters household talked about my Uncle Milton, who had just joined the services,” Baldwin claimed. “Clifford read about it and explained that he suggested them to notify Milton not to take overseas duty mainly because he wasn&#8217t experienced more than enough.”

In early 2018, the Protection POW/MIA Accounting Agency requested DNA samples from Strickland’s surviving family and permission to disinter the remains for laboratory testing. The continues to be have been then despatched to the DPAA laboratory located at Hickam Field, Hawaii, for examination, reigniting cautious optimism in the loved ones. 

“I imagined, perfectly, this is like an not possible task — will this actually take place? It&#8217s kind of astounding that it experienced arrive that considerably,” Baldwin explained. “At that point, it would have been 70 some years previous. It was like they were being never ever heading to obtain him. We&#8217d variety of given that hope up a very long time in the past as a family.”

Strickland was accounted for on Dec. 20, 2023, around 8 a long time after his death. The DPAA used dental documents, anthropological evaluation, and circumstantial proof to establish Strickland’s continues to be. The DPAA then compiled an in depth report on Strickland and shared that with the Military Mortuary Affairs – Previous Casualty office, which then coordinated a full debrief with the loved ones. 

“These reports discuss about the company member’s unit, what that unit was performing foremost up to when the support member went lacking, and about the place the services member is known or believed to have died,” reported DPAA Media Relations Chief, Sean Everette. “It then goes into past and latest-working day restoration efforts. Those people studies are then incorporated with the information provided to the families when they have their 1-on-one particular, in-person identification briefing.”

The Strickland family had investigated their uncle’s support, but they uncovered substantially a lot more when they acquired their debrief. The debrief delivered a comprehensive photo of the relatives and connected Strickland to even the youngest, who’d under no circumstances fulfilled him. 

Strickland’s nephew, Daniel Strickland, is a U.S. Air National Guard captain. He’s served for around 21 many years and drastically respects his uncle and the finest era. Daniel’s deployments have ranged from six to 12 months, but he respects the best technology for going to war right up until it was around — “a completely various ballgame.”

Daniel will escort his uncle’s continues to be from Hawaii to Colorado for the funeral on June 29, 2024. 

“I&#8217ll just say it&#8217s the greatest honor of my military vocation. I don&#8217t even sense deserving to be asked to do it, nor worthy to carry the boots of the troopers of that generation in comparison to what I&#8217ve endured with my armed forces ordeals as opposed to theirs,” Daniel mentioned. “I come to feel honored to be asked to do it, and it&#8217s wild that it&#8217s for just one of my relatives.”

Daniel and his uncle&#8217s remains will be gained in grand fashion. Quite a few Colorado-primarily based VFW posts are scheduling a welcome home ceremony ahead of Strickland will be laid to rest. Baldwin and his cousin, also a pastor, will preside over the celebration of life and the burial. 

“I feel that duty and that weight, but I also experience that it&#8217s most effective laid at our toes. My cousin and I both equally sense that we&#8217ve been well prepared for this,” Baldwin explained. It&#8217s some thing we the two want to do and feel incredibly honored, but also humbled by it.”

The family has experienced to course of action how Strickland’s “last six months of lifetime ended up hell on earth” as element of the grieving course of action. But, he is remembered as a loving loved ones male who fought honorably at Bataan and influenced the troopers around him. Baldwin and Daniel both of those said Strickland’s burial will provide healing to the family members. 

“It will carry a sense of closure to us all when the celebration of daily life and burial takes place,” Daniel mentioned. “I necessarily mean, I&#8217m sure it&#8217s gonna convey a perception of closure and a whole lot of joy and a great deal of joy to be equipped to see it via and have a section in producing it materialize.”

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