Ring tells the story of a Madden family connection

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A simple ring. It holds a connection between father and son and will be ultimately be passed on to another son in memory of his father.

Shown at top is how Josh Madden’s ring originally looked. Josh’s father, Jerry, says a replica was made so that it could be engraved on Josh’s tombstone. The bottom ring is Josh’s ring which was returned to his family.  Bruce Franklin/Press-Herald
Shown at top is how Josh Madden’s ring originally looked. Josh’s father, Jerry, says a replica was made so that it could be engraved on Josh’s tombstone. The bottom ring is Josh’s ring which was returned to his family. Bruce Franklin/Press-Herald

Cindy Madden tells the untold story of a ring her son, the late Josh Madden, wore as his connection to his family. The ring is engraved on his headstone at Gardens of Memory in Minden.

“Madden is an Irish name, and Josh got interested in the Irish name, so Jerry gave Josh this Irish ring when he was in high school,” she said. “Josh adored his daddy. He cherished that ring. Well in the military, you’re not supposed to wear personal jewelry, and Josh would wear this ring on his right hand. And he kept getting in trouble for it.”

Every time he got in trouble for wearing it, Madden says he would have to do a set of pushups or whatever punishment they deemed necessary – and he still refused to take it off.

“When he applied for special forces in Hawaii and they imprisoned him, they saw this ring and asked what the ring was for,” she said. “He told them, ‘My father gave me this ring.’”

She says they called his father every name in the book and he quit.

“That was just his Achilles heel,” she said. “So the first Christmas he was not with us, he had guard duty Christmas Eve. He would look down at that ring and think about all of us, and that connected him to home.

“So when he came home to see Jackson (Josh’s son), before he was killed, we were standing at the stove,” she said. “He said, ‘Mom, I got in trouble for the ring again.’ I said, ‘You did?’ He said, ‘Yeah, and I just told them my daddy gave this to me and you’re going to have to take it off my cold, dead finger.’ Two weeks later, they did.”

Josh Madden was killed Dec. 6, 2006, and the next day, his lieutenant colonel called to offer his condolences and asked if he could do anything. Jerry Madden, Josh’s father, said, “You find that ring.”

“So, he called us back about six hours later, and he said, ‘I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news,’” Madden continued.

“Jerry asked him, ‘What’s the bad news?’ He said, ‘That’s how we identified the body.’ That ring he would not take off. I promised Josh I would take him to Ireland, and I never got to do that.”

Cindy Madden says they are going to Ireland this summer and will leave a time capsule somewhere there in his memory. The family has been researching their family ancestry, calling it their “Madden Pilgrimage.”

She is asking for people who wish to add something to the time capsule to contact them.

The Maddens now have the ring, thanks to the generosity of Josh’s wife, Dani. She says it’s tattered and beat up from the explosion that killed Josh, but they have it, and it will be passed on to Jackson when he turns 18.

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