Casper Oilers Honor LCPL Jerrod Warden at Hockey Game, Parents Drop First Puck
It's been three months, and it isn't any easier.
Lance Corporal Jerrod Warden died on December 14, 2021 at Camp Pendleton, in California. He was laid to rest in January as hundreds of onlookers paid their respects. It was a beautiful service; a funeral fit for a Marine.
Now, three months later, the tributes continue to pour in. The words are genuine and the hugs are tight and the tears are real, but none of them make up for the immense sense of loss; none of them bring back Jerrod.
Read More: 'A Marine By Definition' — Casper Remembers LCpl Jerrod Warden den, Jerrod's parents, with a tribute, or a memory, or even just a kind word about their boy, they can't help but smile.
"In the 20 years he was alive, he just touched so many lives," Kelly said of her son. "We run into so many people whose lives he made such a difference in."
Even just recently, the family was at a local restaurant and the waitress saw a photo of Jerrod on Kyle's phone.
"She was like, 'Is that Jerrod Warden?'" Kelly said of the waitress. "'He was such a great guy,' and then she said 'Can I hug you?' And then I started crying."
Kyle, Kelly, and all of the rest of Jerrod's loved ones have been doing a lot of crying in the three months since his passing. But they've also done a lot of work to honor his memory and his name.
Which is why they were at the Casper Ice Arena on Saturday, March 12. They were there because the Casper Oilers hockey team wanted to honor Jerrod's memory and allow his parents to throw out the first puck in the game.
"We know a lot of the hockey families because all four of us, including Jerrod, worked for the Casper Coyotes hockey team, and Jerrod played for the Oilers for one year" Kelly stated. "And so we have a big hockey family and they asked us if they could honor Jerrod by letting us throw out the puck."
So that's exactly what they did. Jerrod's mom, dad, sister and niece, walked out onto the ice before the game, as the announcer told the crowd about Jerrod and the sacrifice he made for his country. Then, Kyle was handed the hockey puck. He took a deep breath, and let it fall to the ice, as the audience erupted in cheers.
The moment itself lasted just a few brief moments. But it served as yet another reminder of how much Jerrod Warden impacted his community; not just in death, but with his life as well.
"If he saw this, he would say, 'I don't deserve any of this,'" Kelly said. "He was very humble and didn't believe that he was any better than anyone else."
Three months. It's been three months since the passing of Jerrod L. Warden. They've been three of the hardest months of the Warden family's life. But, as sad as the Warden family is, they have not broken. If anything, they're even stronger.
"We get by as a family," Kelly said. "We've always done everything as a family, so we're gonna get by as a family and we're gonna continue on because that's what Jerrod would want."
They're not just getting by, either. They are actively working to continue doing good work, in Jerrod's name.
"We're also working on a scholarship fund in his name," Kelly revealed. "We've sold some shirts and sweatshirts and we're looking into doing a silent auction, and the scholarship will go to a Kelly Walsh wrestler, because that was a big thing to him, too."
Jerrod may be gone, but his legacy lives on. Friends, family, fellow marines; all of them continue to do the best they can at getting by, because that's what Jerrod would have wanted. He would want his people to go on and keep living their lives the best they can. He would tell them to smile often, to work harder, to make more memories. He would tell them to keep doing the things they enjoy. He would tell them to love, as hard as they can.
He would, in short, tell his people to put on their skates, get on the ice, and keep moving towards the next goal.