Fallen Hero SPC Kevin M. Hardin, United States Army

SPC Kevin M. Hardin

February 24, 1986 - January 22, 2012
United States Army

In 2007 21-year-old Front Line Army Medic, Kevin Hardin was severely injured in Iraq when his Hum-V was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade . He endured over 32 surgeries and had severe injuries to both arms including a fused wrist and the loss of fingers. The more than a dozen pieces of shrapnel in his brain were inoperable. These injuries along with two years of operations and rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center would be more than enough to bring a young man down. But that was not Kevin Hardin, and that is not this story.

While at Walter Reed, Kevin met Lillian May. Lillian began to assist Kevin with parts of his recovery. What started out as a caring gesture quickly became much more and on August 29th, 2009 the couple became engaged. In the face of life’s greatest setbacks, Kevin found the love of his life. Facing many challenges the couple felt that it would be impossible to have a dream wedding. So on April 16, 2010 they eloped at a convenience store turned court house in Killeen, Texas.

Kevin and Lillian’s families were so happy for them, however this was not the wedding that Kevin’s mother had in mind for her eldest son. Kevin’s injuries and subsequent treatments had drained much of the family’s resources. She began combing the internet for organization that might be able to do something for Kevin and Lillian. She found ‘Christmas Can Cure’, an organization that works to fulfill the needs and wishes of severely injured veterans. Founder Andre Carrier, who is also Chief Operating Officer of the Eureka Casino Resort in Mesquite, Nevada forwarded Terry Hardin’s email request to the resort’s owner Greg Lee. Within hours the two men hatched a plan, and Kevin and Lillian had the wedding of their dreams. On November 13, 2010 the resort along with assistance from Christmas Can Cure and the Wounded Warrior Project took care of the entire wedding, which included flying in the families and wedding party from across the country. This painting shows Kevin in his wedding attire.

One year and two months later Kevin suddenly passed away in his sleep as a result of his injuries. According to loved ones Kevin had a tender heart, a sweet spirit, and a smile that would brighten any room. And he felt such a bond with his Army buddies that he wanted to make Ft. Hood his forever home to be close to them. His Military awards include the Purple Heart, Combat Medic Badge, Good Conduct Medal, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Army Achievement medal.

Kevin is survived by his wife Lillian, his mother Terry (his father Charles Hardin passed away six months after Kevin died); and brothers, Kenneth, Kyle and Keith; also grandparents, in-laws and a host of other family. I must add that his parents, Terry and Charles Hardin were married for thirty five years! And the two of them moved close to Kevin during his medical treatments to help with his care. When we look into the lives of Kevin and his family we are privileged to see the very ultimate in bravery and courage.

Portrait sponsored by:
- Mrs. Isabelle Timm, Utica, MN; and Mrs. Marlene Ploetz, St. Charles, MN