By Wyatt Earp | August 9, 2009
Yesterday, I received a very nice e-mail from Terry Hardin, mother of Army Specialist Kevin Hardin, who was severely injured in 2007 while serving in Iraq. She asked me to re-post this July article from The Philadelphia Inquirer that detailed Kevin’s story.
I am proud to do so.
Kevin Hardin is home in Eddystone for the July Fourth weekend. He’s visiting with his parents, Terry and Charles, and two of his three brothers, Kyle and Keith.
The 23-year-old didn’t grow up in the Delaware County rowhome. He’s from Jupiter, Fla. The trip north has been a circuitous one, taking him from Fort Benning, Ga., to Samarra, Iraq, to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.
Kevin has been at Walter Reed since Oct. 2, 2007. He arrived unconscious, about 48 hours after his humvee was hit by a rocket in Samarra. The combat medic’s torso and legs were badly burned. Parts of his hands were missing or barely attached. Almost a dozen small pieces of shrapnel were lodged in his brain – they can’t be removed without endangering his life.
This, dear readers, is the kind of sacrifice we receive from our men and women of the armed forces.
As is so often the case with wounded soldiers, it was his buddies who saved his life. They stopped the bleeding – Kevin had trained them well. And sped the still-drivable humvee to an aid station.
Months later, his friends would send him pictures of the damaged vehicle. Kevin wasn’t sure his mom should see them, but she did. “It looked like a mass murder had taken place,” she said in an interview. “His blood was all over.”
It is nothing short of a miracle that Kevin survived. Thanks to the care he received, and his own Herculean efforts, he is on his way to recovery. Hopefully, he will soon be able to return home.
Within an hour of his arrival at Walter Reed, his parents were by his side. They’ve stayed as close as possible ever since.
His dad, a Vietnam vet, quit his job as a security guard and moved to Washington for a few months to be Kevin’s caregiver. That was about 30 operations ago. His mom, a legal secretary, went back and forth almost weekly, sometimes with the help of the military, other times thanks to pro-vet nonprofits such as Veterans Airlift Command or Luke’s Wings.
During all this, Kevin’s grandfather, Harold Stewart, was fighting bone cancer. When he died last fall, leaving the Eddystone house empty, the Hardins decided it was time to stop commuting from Florida to be near Kevin. They moved in April.
You would think that after being surrounded by such tragic circumstances, the Hardins would be rather angry. You would be wrong.
“I have such a feeling of peace in this home,” Terry Hardin says of the house where she grew up. “I’m just so thankful we have a roof over our heads and our son is alive.”
After only three e-mails, I can tell that Terry Hardin is an amazing woman, surrounded by an amazing family.
They travel to Washington once a week, or, like this weekend, Kevin comes home on convalescent leave. In between, the priority is finding jobs. To support the family. To pay for the trips to D.C., and supplement Kevin’s Army pay. To repair and remodel the house, which Stewart couldn’t keep up with during his illness. To pay for the hotel Kevin and his full-time caregiver use when he visits – the two-bedroom house is already overcrowded.
Kevin’s dad would welcome something in security again, but has also applied for counter jobs at Wawa. So far, no luck. His mom has found a part-time position at a title agency. She has been interviewing at law firms, from Wilmington to Philadelphia to the suburbs. But it’s a tough time to look for work. Their 18-year-old son Kyle just started at Shop Rite, and has promised to turn over his paycheck to his parents. (H/T – Philly.com)
Obviously, Kevin’s family could use some help. Terry Hardin allowed me to post her address in case anyone wanted to help out a little. I also have access to her phone number, which I won’t post here, but I can give out if I get an e-mail request.
c/o Terry Hardin
718 Ashland Avenue
Eddystone, PA 19022