During the fighting in France, German artillery targeted a barrage on the trench from which Strickler was observing machine gun fire. A gas shell landed in the trench killing several of his comrades. Strickler was severly gassed and wounded. He was evacuated to a hospital on southern France. Although he was blind for a week, he soon recovered. He requested orders returning him to his front line company but was told he was being assigned to a staff position in the rear and would see no more fighting. When a Sergeant holding the orders releasing him from the hospital was out of the room, Strickler took the orders and left. Bluffing his way past conductors and railroad police, without a pass or a ticket, he boarded a train for Paris and then found a train from Paris back to the 28th Division railhead near Chateau-Thierry. He reported to his battalion commander and was reassigned command of his old company. He had been reported as AWOL but was exonorated when it was learned he had returned to the front. - He was promoted to captain at the age of twenty-one, the youngest Army officer to hold that rank during the war.