Army medic Kevin Hardin died Jan. 22 of injuries sustained in Iraq. He and his wife Lillian received a storybook wedding a year ago thanks to the Eureka and the Mesquite community. Photo provided.
Slightly more than a year has passed since the storybook wedding in Mesquite of former Army medic Kevin Hardin to the woman who cared for him at Walter Reed Army Hospital after he was severely injured when a rocket propelled grenade slammed into his Humvee during combat operations in Samarra, Iraq in 2007.
Hardin spent two years in the hospital and was forced to undergo 32 surgeries and a lengthy, painful rehabilitation.During his recovery, Hardin met Lillian May who cared for him through the painful times. Over the course of two years Hardin was receiving medical treatments, the couple fell in love.
In August, 2009, Hardin proposed to May but the reality was he was severely injured including injuries to both arms, a fused wrist and loss of fingers. He also had several pieces of shrapnel in his brain which were inoperable.After being medically retired from the military, he was without a job.
Understanding their financial situation and with big challenges ahead, the couple knew that an elegant wedding was not in their future. Instead, they eloped and were married in a convenience store turned courthouse on April 16, 2010.
Fate was due to step into their lives however when Hardin's mother contacted a renowned group whose mission is to help wounded warriors.Christmas Can Cure was originally founded by Andre Carrier's family and is generously supported by Greg Lee of the Eureka Casino. Carrier is the Chief Operating Officer of the Eureka Casino.
The organization is designed to recognize the sacrifices of wounded warriors and remind them they are not alone.Hardin's mother wrote of her son and daughter-in-law's circumstances and asked “Is there anything Christmas Can Cure can do?”
“I was driving back to Mesquite when I read that email asking for help,” said Carrier.“I knew this was a special cause and immediately called Greg (Lee). Within two hours we hatched a plan to give them the wedding they had dreamed of.”
“It is a great privilege for us to host their wedding in Mesquite, a small town that values and honors the contributions of our servicemen and women,” Lee said at the time, a year ago.Funded almost entirely by the Eureka, the couple and their families were flown to Mesquite, provided accommodations, food and ground transportation and a pre-wedding community reception on Veterans Day.Their beautiful wedding was followed by an all-expenses paid honeymoon in Hawaii.
[Photos courtesy of the Eureka Casino Hotel.]
“We are grateful for the generosity of Christmas Can Cure, the men and women of the Eureka and the entire community of Mesquite,” Hardin's mother said after the wedding.
Hardin continued to suffer through the pain and havoc that his critical injuries forced him
to endure.Despite treatment, his medical problems did not get any better.The couple moved to Texas near Ft. Hood Army Medical Center.“Kevin felt such a bond to his army buddies that even though he was medically retired from the army, he wanted to make Ft. Hood his home so that he could be close to them,” said his mother.
Due to the injuries he received in combat, Hardin passed away in the hospital on Jan. 22.He was buried Jan. 27 with full military honors at Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery.Hardin is survived by his wife of one year and several family members.He was 25 years old.
In an interview with the Mesquite Citizen Journal, Carrier commented in a solemn voice on the tragedy that had befallen the Hardin family. “It is difficult to know what to say.We (Greg Lee, myself and the staff of the Eureka) have been in constant contact with Lillian Hardin (Kevin's widow) and his parents.”
Pausing to collect his thoughts, Carrier said in a sometimes broken voice,“this is so very sad for Lillian to have lost someone that was so clearly the love of her life.It is so sad for Kevin's parents who thought they might have lost their son, only to rejoice when they got him back, and then to lose him again.And it is so sad for our friend, Kevin, who had gone through so much and had so many possibilities ahead of him.And finally, it is so sad for our community in Mesquite who opened up their hearts and gave the gift of hope to someone they didn't know, only to feel the loss of his passing.”
Carrier went on to explain that the whole community had come together to make the wedding a success and so many people gave of themselves unselfishly.Greg Lee, the staff of the Eureka, the people of Mesquite, and the Christmas Can Cure Foundation, all joined together as one to help someone less fortunate.
“There is a lesson in this,” said Carrier.“After we mourn, we have to pick ourselves up because there is a lot of work to do.Kevin would have wanted us to do more, to pay attention and to be part of the answer.He would have wanted us to care for our community and for our veterans.To care for the 35,000 injured and traumatized veterans returning from this war and the tens of thousands who have returned from previous wars.We have a lot of work to do but we can do it.”
People wanting to make a donation to the Christmas Can Cure Foundation can visit the Web site at www.ChristmasCanCure.com
[Editor's note: Even though Kevin Hardin was not a resident of Mesquite, he and his family became part of our community. Please join the Staff of the Mesquite Citizen Journal in mourning his passing.]
Posted Date: 01/31/2012 Thank you MCJ for this story. What a tender story of life. By: Nancy
Posted Date: 01/31/2012 What a lovely but tragic story. Hats off to the Eureka, they really step up for the community. By: Karen
Posted Date: 01/31/2012 So sad. Thanks Barbara and to the Eureka for the memories and the hope. By: Jimmy
Posted Date: 02/01/2012 We of the Veterans Honor Guard regret the loss of Kevin Hardin, as we were part of the wedding ceremony.
Greg Lee & Andre Carrier provided a great program for that wonderful couple
Coordinator Veterans Honor Guard By: Tony Hardway
Posted Date: 02/26/2012 This is such a sad story. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family. Thank u Kevin for your service. It is because of men like u that we have our freedom.
I first learned of this story on the TLC show, "Say Yes To The Dress". Thanks to the foundation "Christmas Can Cure" ...ya'll are the best. There was something missing in the story.... Kleinfeld (upscale bridal store of which I first seen the story on tv) discounted the dress to fit the budget. Two of the cast members donated the vail and headpiece out of their own pocket. This just goes to show u that there are still good people in this world. By: Donna
Posted Date: 05/25/2012 This story breaks my heart. I cry for Lillian. I was so happy for her when i saw the "say yes to the dress" episode. wow...still in disbelief. prayers and hugs By: katya
Posted Date: 08/31/2012 I literally just saw the episode of Say Yes to the Dress and was drawn to Kevin & Lillian and their story. I was shocked to see the In Loving Memory at the end of the show and needed to see if it was real. I am so sorry to see that he has passed. It breaks my heart and I am so sad for Lillian. The love that you could so see between them on the show is remarkable. I just am truly shocked and sorry that Kevin lost his battle. It hits home for me because my Dad was SGT. First Class in the Army and was also hit by a road side bomb in his humvee and also has shrapnel in his head but fortunately he is still with us. I can't imagine how Lillian feels but I wish her the best. By: Shannon
Posted Date: 08/31/2012 I just finished watching the TLC show "Say Yes to the Dress" and was immediately touched by Kevin and Lillian's story. At first I thought the dedication at the end was an army buddy that was in the vehicle as well so went online and was very saddened to see who it actually was. Such a tragic end for a couple that went through so much. My heart goes out to all of the family. By: Karen Primrose
Posted Date: 08/31/2012 I just saw the episode and read this and I am heartbroken! I too was so happy that she got her beautiful dress and he was si sweet wanting to be surprised... What a tragic ending to a beautiful I've story. I am still crying. There's a special place in Heaven for Kevin, and his love will always look out for Lillian. Thoughts and prayers with all of the family... By: Jana
Posted Date: 01/17/2013 I do not know any of these people but I do know the love and piotsive energy radiates from these pictures. The bride is simply an angel from her affection and tenderness shown to her blind mother to every thought and detail she put into the journal to her future husband. I know to be around this couple is to be set on fire with a burning urge to do good and be better. I must admit I was skeptical about true love but after viewing these intimate photos of precious moments you captured I an once again made a believer. You have an undeniable gift of capturing beauty. To this couple I wish the many many blessed years of matrimony. I wish you much continued success and who knows I may need to call upon you when I meet my future husband. Thnk you again for helping to restore my faith of unconditional love!! By: Luanna
Posted Date: 01/19/2013 I'm a huge Say Yes To The Dress fan, and I saw this story a couple years ago on there. I was watching an episode tonight and saw that Kevin had passed away. I was so sad to hear this. My thoughts are with his wife and family. Thank you, Kevin, for your service to our country.
I'm heartbroken to hear the tragic end to this story. :( By: Tricia
Posted Date: 08/04/2013 I was just watching Say Yes to the Dress and telling my husband the whole story. I rewound so he could see how sweet it was! I was in shock at the end when it said "In loving memory ....."! It made me so sad! I hope his wife is ok. You could see how much they loved and cared for each other! By: Chrissie St. Germain
Posted Date: 08/04/2013 Just saw the episode of them in SAY YES YO THE DRESS. Ive cried and so touched for the love and support they gave to each other and to the people who helped them to make that special wedding came true. I just cant believe he died. He is such a nice guy and a loving son. So sad and my heart goes out to lilian and the family.. my heart just got broken, tears still streaming down my face. Another brave good soul is gone. By: stephane
Posted Date: 03/11/2014 My son joined the Marines on November 4, 2013 and from the day he left has been hard. He reconnected with a young lady during leave from Marine combat training. She said to me last night, this is hard, and i said yes but now i have you to love and pray for him. Its hard but worth the love. Thank you Kevin for your time in service and both lillian & kevin for setting the example of loving without limits. By: Cindy