MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. --
Brenda Warner’s life story is anything but ordinary or typical. The rocky path that she has had to find her footing includes stepping on the yellow footprints, being discharged from the Marine Corps due to family complications and having to resort to utilizing federal assistance to support her family.
The training and values instilled in her by the Corps has enabled her to endure and persevere, becoming a true icon all service members and civilians can truly appreciate.
It was this personal strength that drove Marine Wing Support Squadron 273 to invite Warner to their 234th Marine Corps Birthday Ball at the Marriot Hotel in Hilton Head, Nov. 13.
“It is not about when or where you were a Marine, or what your Military Occupational Specialty was, but about the pride of being a part of something we can all appreciate,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Regan, the MWSS-273 commanding officer. “After everyone heard her story, I know it made us all proud to be Marines.”
Warner is currently the wife of NFL Arizona Cardinals’ All-Star quarterback, Kurt Warner. The couple reached celebrity status when Kurt became the 1999 St. Louis Rams Super Bowl Most Valuable Player. However, before her life in the limelight, Brenda’s story was plagued with trials and tribulations.
“After I enlisted in the Corps in 1985, I gave birth to a son who had birth defects,” Brenda said. “I got out of the service with a hardship discharge. I had the passion and dream to make the Corps a career, but unfortunately, it wasn’t possible.”
To go along with her disabled child, in 1996, Brenda lost her parents in a storm.
She was out of the Marine Corps with two children and no sound way of supporting them and herself. In order to provide for her family, she had to resort to food stamps.
In those lean times, Brenda had no idea her husband was destined for NFL greatness.
“When I met him, he was a bagger in a supermarket, but I fell for him,” Brenda said. “I used what I learned from the Corps: I put my eye on the target, went for him and I got him. We’ve been together ever since.”
The happy couple, and parents of seven children, have always found a way to help those in need and in 2001, Brenda and Kurt established the First Things First Foundation to promote Christian values and assist the lives of those less fortunate with projects such as trips to Disney World for ill children, building recreation centers in children’s hospitals, and helping single parents achieve the dream of home ownership, always promoting the Warners’ life theme: faith and family come first.
Brenda has been an inspiration to everyone who knows her story and she is not ashamed of what she has been through because it has made her stronger.
“I still use much of what I learned from the Corps in my daily life,” Brenda said. “For example, my husband and I utilize the roll call method for accountability of our children. I even wore a high and tight to the (1999 Super Bowl game) as an example of how I still exemplify the Corps.”
Regan said Brenda showed the Sweathogs and their dates it takes more than what Marines do in the battlefield to understand what it means to persevere and withstand.
“Having (Brenda) at our ball was just an outstanding privilege for us,” said Sgt. Maj. Gary Tolar, the Sweathogs’ sergeant major. “Once you are a Marine, you are always a Marine. Although she doesn’t wear the uniform anymore, she never gave up and she will always continue to devote her life to caring for others.”