Local officer ensures family's name lives on

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By Carol A. Clark

With a son on the way and no one left to carry on his grandfather’s name, Los Alamos Police Sgt. Jason Wardlow is officially changing his name to Jason Wardlow Herrera this month.

Wardlow, 30, is an only child. His mother Pennie Herrera Wardlow expressed how much it means to her and the rest of the family that her son wants to perpetuate the family name.

“My mom and dad, sister and grandmother were killed in a car accident in April of 1958 between Espanola and Santa Fe when I was 8-and-a-half-years-old,” she said.

“We were taken from our home in Taos and weren’t able to come home until Jason was 6-years-old. “My dad’s sister, Aunt Angelina was always reminded of her brother through Jason. She said Jason not only looked like my dad but was mischievous and close to family like her brother. She felt like she was watching her brother grow up all over again.”

It makes one wonder about reincarnation, Pennie said.

“My brothers both had girls and the Herrera name stops with them, but since Jason is so much like dad, we, the family are thrilled to have Jason carry over the name and give it to his and Emily’s son,” she said.

“My son excels in everything he does, he was captain of his high school football team and student body president. Jason has always been a team player. He has a big heart, great compassion and is so helpful to whomever needs him. He will be a great dad.”

Wardlow’s wife, Emily, fully supports the family name change, too. “I always thought I would be one of those women who kept their own last name,” she said.

“But when you love someone as much as I love Jason, it is more of a gift rather than a sacrifice. Plus with the history, love, and heartbreak that this particular family name carries, it is an honor to take the name not only for myself but for our son as well.”

Wardlow recalled that it was 50 years ago this year that his grandparents Emilio and Stela Herrera, great aunt Flora Herrera and great grandmother Locaida Prando were driving to Santa Fe when they were involved in an accident in which a mobile home fell over and crushed their car.

“My mom was just a child at home in Valdez, New Mexico with her two sisters and two brothers,” he said. “My uncle Emilio had one daughter and my uncle Robert had seven daughters. My aunts had sons but they have their father’s name.”

Wardlow explained that his half-brother from his father has two sons to carry on the Wardlow name.

“We’ve gone through the process to change my last name and will meet with the District Court judge on Sept. 18 when it will become final,” he said. “I’ll keep Wardlow as my middle name.”

He also plans to place Emilio as his son’s middle name to honor both his grandfather and his uncle.

His grandfather served in the Army during WWII and received a Purple Heart for valor after entering a building to save some people when a land mine went off.

“My grandfather was injured in the rescue and received a medical discharge,” Wardlow said. “I am very proud to take his name and to pass it on to my son.”

Wardlow has been with the LAPD for nearly two years. He previously served as a deputy sheriff with the Taos County Sheriff’s Department for four years.

He was born in Long Beach, CA. He attended West Texas A&M University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.