SFC Donald Keith Strickland
Camarillo - "My proudest accomplishment was defending our great nation." - Donald K. Strickland
Sergeant First Class, Donald Keith Strickland was born May 31, 1934 to George and Ruth Strickland in Richmond, Indiana. The Strickland's moved out to California for a better life like many did back in those days. Young Donald grew up in the San Fernando Valley and had many different jobs from working at his family's grocery store, to doing a paper route down Sepulveda Blvd on his horse "Star Baby."
While attending San Fernando Valley High School, Donald had a call to duty and joined the Navy on his 17th Birthday. His father had to sign papers in order to release him to enlist for the Korean War. While in Korea, Donald served on the famed aircraft carriers USS Yorktown and USS Hornet. After the Korean War and three years in the Navy, Donald decided to join the Army of which he spent the next 18 years of his life.
Donald did his basic training at Fort Brag, North Carolina and joined the legendary 82nd Airborne. During his first jump after training, Donald's parachute did not open until he almost hit ground. As he tells the story, "I was the last one out of the plane and the first one down." Not discouraged, his commanding officer sent him right back up with no hesitation on Donald's part. He loved jumping out of airplanes.
During his time in the Army, Donald was stationed in West Germany where he met the love of his life, Antonie, and have been married over 60 years. Donald was then sent off to the Vietnam War where he served two tours of duty and was awarded the Bronze Star for bravery in action during the Tet Offensive. Donald rose to the rank of Sergeant First Class as a noncommissioned officer and received many medals and awards.
After getting injured in the war, Donald became a drill sergeant at Fort Ord Army Base in Monterey, California. As his kids tell their friends, imagine having a drill sergeant for a dad. In reminiscing with his children; he always was proud to be called a soldier. He considered the United States of America the greatest country in the world.
In 1973, Donald retired from the armed services and relocated to Simi Valley, California. He briefly worked for the Simi Valley Police department and later went on to be facilities manager for a number of Convalescent and Hospital locations throughout Ventura County. He loved working with his hands and could fix anything. He never had a negative comment about anyone and any person who knew him loved him for his hard work and smile. His commitment was resounding as he did not retire until the age of 75.
He is survived by his wife, Antonie; his children, Gabriele, Rene and Anthony; his grandchildren, Jacob, Samantha, Natasha, Alexandra, Ruby and Anthony; and his great grandchildren, Wyatt, Kayla, Sophia and Bryce.
Donald has been a resident of Ventura County since 1973 and resided in Camarillo since 2000 with his wife for the remainder of his life.
A Funeral Service will be held on Sat, May 8, 2021 at 11:00 am at the Chapel of the Hills at Conejo Mountain Memorial Park: 2052 Howard Rd, Camarillo, California 93012, with interment to follow, also at Conejo Mountain.
Published in Ventura County Star from May 1 to May 6, 2021.