In the course of living, we may understand that life is perishable, but we are rarely prepared for the expiration date.
When life ends unexpectedly, we are severely affected across the spectrum of emotions.
Such is the case with the sudden loss of Lance Cpl. James R. Walden Ill., a 21-year-old Marine and member of the Marine Cryptologic Support Battalion whose life was cut short after his motorcycle was struck by a car on Feb. 24.
He died as a result of the accident, according to published reports.
The funeral for Walden was held Saturday in his hometown area of East Peoria, Ill.
Walden is remembered as a vital and vibrant member of MCSB. The Marine Corps unit provides “signals intelligence, information assurance, and national tactical integration activities” primarily to the National Security Agency/Central Security Service, but to other operational units as well, according to the unit’s website.
“He was a valued member of the team, and a great personal friend,” Cpl. Giancarlo Duquette said. “Walden and I used to ride our bikes together after work. … I could have been riding with him that day. Whenever I ride now, I’ll be thinking of Jimmie and riding for him.”
Walden enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2015 and graduated from Marine recruit training in April 2015 and Marine combat training the following month. He completed communications signals collection and processing training at Corry Station, Pensacola, Fla., before continuing his training regiment by graduating from the signals intelligence operator course.
Walden was then assigned to Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, to complete the tactical signals intelligence operators course. In December 2015, Lance Cpl. Walden was assigned to B Company, MCSB at Fort Meade as a signals reporter.
Walden was well known throughout the command as really good at his job with a unique way of approaching his work, said Lance Cpl. Ryan Sisson.
“He was friends with everyone, a great roommate and friend who loved motorcycles, cars and Bud Light,” Sisson said. “Whenever I see or hear something funny, I want to send it to Jimmie. Then I remember I can’t do that anymore.”
Maj. Anna Voyne, Walden’s company commander at Fort Meade, said more than 850 people attended the funeral. Twenty-four MCSB Marines gave military honors.
“I cannot tell you how much love and patriotism there is in that little town,” Voyne said. “Jimmie’s childhood friends, family and hundreds of Marine Corps veterans from the entire state came to honor Jimmie.”
Gunnery Sgt. Lloyd J. James Jr. and Cpl. Austin Wells, both of MCSB, accompanied Walden’s transport to East Peoria.
Walden was placed on the plane by his two escorts and 16 additional Marines from his platoon. Nineteen Marines flew Friday to Peoria; others drove from Fort Meade to attend the funeral services.
“Lance Corporal Walden was the type of Marine that every platoon commander hopes to lead. He was smart, motivated and excited about his job,” said Capt. Benjamin Fulp, Walden’s troop commander. “He had a great sense of humor and was well liked by everyone within our platoon not just because he was funny, but because he was a reliable friend.
“He was the kind of guy who’d volunteer for anything, would be one of the first to offer to help, and always had a positive attitude and a smile on his face. He took pride in being reliable, and I’ll miss the positive impact he had on the platoon as a whole.
“A guy with his work ethic, personality and intelligence could have done anything he wanted in life.”
According to an MCSB official, a memorial will be held at Fort Meade later this month. Walden’s parents, James and Susan Walden, are expected to attend.
“Jimmie was always able to inject humor into any situation while getting the job done with excellence,” Cpl. Wells said. “He knew how to take care of people; he was the best at it. He did what he was supposed to do and was the big glue holding things together.
“We miss him — now and always.”
“Lance Corporal Walden was a fine young man, a dedicated Marine and an important member of our battalion family. In the last few days, it has been remarkable to see the outpouring of support from his fellow Marines, other service members and civilian co-workers here at Fort Meade. We’ve also heard from our Marines stationed in Georgia, Colorado, Texas and Hawaii who knew Lance Corporal Walden and are grieving the loss. He touched a lot of lives and is going to be missed.”
— Lt. Col. Michael R. Challgren, commanding officer, Marine Cryptologic Support Battalion