A United States Marine from Casper has died at the age of 20.

Jerrod L. Warden died on December 14 at Camp Pendleton, California.

His father, Kyle, said his son was the "nicest guy you'd ever know."

"He loved life," Kyle said. "He was definitely proud to be a Marine."

Jerrod, a Lance Corporal, served as a mortarman.

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The cause of his death remains under investigation.

He played football for Kelly Walsh and also wrestled. Jerrod was a part of Kelly Walsh's first state championship wrestling team.

Kyle said Jerrod was supposed to be home for Christmas. He was supposed to be back in town on December 18. Instead, Jerrod passed away serving his country.

"We shouldn't have to bury our children. That's for sure," Kyle said. "We miss him a lot.

"Everything is going to be a lot different."

Kyle said Jerrod was thinking about extending his enlistment in the Marine Corps. He also wanted to continue training in MMA. After the Marines, Kyle said, Jerrod wanted to go into law enforcement or become a firefighter.

Shortly after Jerrod's death, two Marines went to the Wardens' doorstep. At first, Kyle said, they thought they were church missionaries. When they realized their visitors were Marines, the Wardens immediately knew something was wrong.

Kyle said Jerrod was exceptionally close with his sister. Jerrod said the hardest part about being a Marine was not being around to see his niece's firsts: Her first steps. Her first words and so on.

Jerrod was also a mama's boy and he was proud of it.

The night before Jerrod's death, he called his parents and told them how excited he was to come home for the holidays. He showed them the gift he'd got for his girlfriend.

And he was excited to come back to the Wyoming wind.

Perhaps Casperites will be a little less annoyed with the Wyoming wind knowing that Jerrod loved it. Were he still here, he was excited for a walk with his mom in the wind.

Right now, his family is calling the Casper wind "Jerrod's wind."

A procession is planned for Jerrod on Thursday evening. The exact time remains fluid.

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