HOLLY POND — Dust. Desert. Danger.
RP3 (AW/SW) Daniel Stricklin of the Fleet Marine Force has known little else during the last seven months in Afghanistan.
Then he came home Tuesday to Cullman County.
To hear Stricklin describe his return, one would think he had come back to a veritable paradise.
“There you have nothing, here you have everything,” Stricklin said Wednesday morning at his mother, Nell McWhorter’s, home in Holly Pond. “It really kind of puts you in shock. You know you are home with the people you love. There is no place like Cullman.”
Stricklin, 23, has 14 days to spend with his family and he does not intend to waste them.
“I have been craving my wife,” Stricklin said with a laugh.
In addition to spending time with family, Stricklin said he plans to take time to play his guitar and to try some duck hunting in Arkansas.
“I’m just going to relax,” Stricklin said.
Other than his mother, maybe the only person happier than Stricklin is to be home, is his wife Leslie. To her, the wait for her husband’s return was almost unbearable.
“It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” she said. “It’s the most worried I’ve ever felt in my life. You never know what’s going to happen.”
A 2004 Good Hope High School graduate, Stricklin joined the military when he was 19-years-old. He spent his first tour mainly on the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. Much of Stricklin’s time revolved around waving in planes for landing.
Then the accident happened.
One night, Stricklin was walking around the jet blast deflector, when a pilot switched on his aircraft’s afterburner.
“The afterburner came on an burned my eyes,” he said. “It took me about three days to recover.”
As a result of the injury, Stricklin’s sight was blurred and he became color deficient, which made him ineligible to further serve on an aircraft carrier. Stricklin was transferred to the ground in Afghanistan, where he spent his second and latest tour as a chaplain bodyguard.
“He can’t carry a weapon, so he has to have me,” Stricklin said.
In addition to protecting the chaplain as he travels to conduct ministries, Stricklin undertakes the mortuary affairs of the military. In other words, he ensures that soldiers who have lost their lives are recovered from the battlefield and returned home to their families.
“I’m so very proud of him,” said Stricklin’s mother.
To McWhorter, adjusting to how her son has changed since joining the military is almost as tough as adjusting to life with him away from home.
“It’s the biggest change,” McWhorter said. “I still want to think of him as a little boy. But he has a beautiful wife ... and to know he serves our country ... I know I’m proud of him.”
Once Stricklin has used up his time off, he will return to serving his country for a few more months and may return to Afghanistan.
“They could deploy me,” Stricklin said. “When I get back, I’ll have one year left on my contract. It’s rare they deploy you again in your last year, so hopefully this will be my last hoorah.”
* Patrick McCreless can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or by telephone at 734-2131 ext. 270.
Marine enjoying time with family while on leave from Afghanistan
HOLLY POND — Dust. Desert. Danger.
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UPDATED: Director John Hunt announces retirement from city parks dept.
After more than 20 years at the helm of Cullman Parks and Recreation, John Hunt has announced his retirement from the department.
The Times' Morning Update for Monday, March 10, 2014
Good morning, readers, take a look at what’s happening today in Cullman County:
Residents want ‘humility,’ ‘accountability’ in next school superintendent
Local residents want a humble, accountable and visionary leader to take over as the next superintendent of the Cullman County Board of Education — at least according to a survey that’ll be used to whittle down the five finalists for the position.
Merchants Bank embraces corporate citizen role
Established in 1907, in Hanceville, Merchants Bank is one of the concerned and caring businesses that make Cullman such a special place to live. Because of businesses like this one, and others who make it a point to give back to the community, Cullman can offer services, recreation and educational opportunities that are enjoyed throughout the county.
Gentry leads February fundraising in sheriff’s race
Cullman County Sheriff candidate Matt Gentry outraised incumbent Mike Rainey in February campaign fundraising, however the sitting sheriff still maintains a larger campaign fund.
HPD: Boaz man charged with attempted murder after trying to run over police chief
A Boaz man is in jail on attempted murder charges after Hanceville police said he tried to run over the city’s police chief Friday afternoon.
County park sponsoring Bassmasters Elite Series Pro fisherman Kevin Hawk
Cullman County hopes to reel in more business and tourism at Smith Lake by signing Bassmasters Elite Series professional fisherman Kevin Hawk to a two-year sponsorship, officials announced Friday.
Hanceville woman arrested for two counts of drug distribution
A Hanceville woman was arrested by Cullman Narcotics Enforcement Team (CNET) agents on Thursday for previously selling meth to undercover officers.
CPD Chief, sheriff, candidates weigh in on gun bill
Candidates for Cullman County Sheriff weighed in on a bill that would let people carry loaded pistols in their vehicles without a concealed carry permit.
Arrests, incidents reports for March 6, 2014
Here is a look at the incidents that were reported to the Cullman City Police Department for Thursday:
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- UPDATED: Director John Hunt announces retirement from city parks dept.