New Mexico community says final goodbye to fallen Marine killed in helicopter crash

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VALENCIA COUNTY, N.M. – On Monday morning, a Valencia County community rallied together to show support for one family. 

The tight-knit community of Peralta came together to give 19-year-old Lance Cpl. Evan Strickland a final goodbye worthy of a hero. 

Ed Wade is neighbors with the Strickland family and watched Evan Strickland grow up. On Monday, he gave his final goodbye. 

“He’s only 19. You know, and this was a dream for him to serve the military. His father was in the military and he just he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. So yeah, this is a big tragedy for the whole state,” said Wade. 

Strickland was killed in an osprey helicopter crash in June, along with four other Marines. The crash happened near San Diego, California while Strickland was stationed at Camp Pendleton. 

His hometown lined the streets Monday morning to honor one of their youngest fallen heroes. 

“It shows that the town of Peralta and Valencia County are a close community, and they do support one another,” said Kori Taylor, organizer. 

Those who knew him say he was living his dream.

“Flying was his passion. That’s what he wanted to do and he gave his life doing it,” said Sylvia Wienberg secretary at Peralta Elementary. 

And remember fondly how he could always put a smile on your face. 

“Evan was a jokester. He was always the one making everybody laugh. Great kid. You know, he could be a little rambunctious. But overall, he was a great kid,” said Wienberg. 

Stickland had only been in the Marines for just over a year and graduated from Valencia High School in 2020. 

“We’ll miss you, Evan. Thank you for your service,” Weinberg said. 

Strickland will be buried with full honors at the Santa Fe National Cemetery. 

If you would like to send your regards, the Strickland family has asked instead of flowers that you make a donation to the Wingman Foundation