The newly wedded Kevin and Casi Scadden kiss on June 14 at St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church in Front Royal. Three weeks later, Lance Cpl. Scadden was deployed to Iraq. Courtesy photo
Kevin James Scadden
A proud mother
STEPHENS CITY The 19-year-old's T-shirt says it all: "Half of my heart is deployed. Half of his heart is due in September."
Newlywed Casi Scadden is busy planning for her baby shower. Ladybug likenesses are on gifts and baby items at her parents' Stephens City residence. There's a bassinet, all ready for her little girl. In another room, wedding gifts are still displayed.
After eloping on Jan. 3, her new husband, Lance Cpl. Kevin Scadden, a U.S. Marine, is off in the hot sands of Iraq. Scadden's e-mails request baby wipes, his only way of cleaning up over there in the 130-degree temperatures.
Back home, his young wife waits, keeping busy any way she can. Since conceiving their child, the couple have yet to live as man and wife.
He was home on Christmas leave from Camp Lejeune, N.C., when the couple stole away and found a justice of the peace who performed a civil ceremony.
"We wanted to go ahead and get married before he deployed," says the new Mrs. Scadden, who got married on her lunch break and went back to work at her job at a church day care center with a wedding ring on her finger.
Both from staunch Catholic families Scadden, 21, has eight brothers and sisters a church wedding was held June 14 at St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church in Front Royal. Three weeks later, on July 23, Scadden left North Carolina for Iraq. The couple's honeymoon was two nights at a friend's cottage in Luray.
"We knew we only had the rest of the weekend and he had to be back on base but it was everything I hoped for," says the new bride.
Perhaps it's youth, but Mrs. Scadden says she did not get emotional on her wedding day, knowing her days with her husband were limited.
"I tried to block it out," she says, sitting on the sofa beside her mother, Michelle Williams.
Williams will be there when her first grandchild arrives and is preparing a nursery for the baby, already named Kiah Marie, due on Sept. 27. The baby's father won't be able to hold his little girl until February; she will already be 6 months old when she meets her father.
"He has e-mailed me almost every day for the past 10 days," says Mrs. Scadden. "He is in good spirits. There's not a lot of detail he can go into."
Scadden is with the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines Alpha Company, 4th Platoon.
Right now, says Mrs. Scadden, he is training for his Humvee license.
The two had been dating nearly three years when they became engaged. He joined the Marines on May 25, 2007. Prior to that he was working with his father installing bathrooms.
"It is something he had always wanted to do. He told me he was going to join the Marines, and I said I was going to join a convent," the young girl says, laughing.
Scadden signed up for four years. His enlistment ends May 25, 2011. When he is back from Iraq, his new wife will join him in military housing at Camp Lejeune.
Seeing the positive and avoiding TV news, Mrs. Scadden says it's unfortunate that her husband won't be there for the birth of his first child, but she already is turning her sights to his three weeks of leave in February.
"I feel like the media coverage is slightly biased," says the young woman. "I feel the war isn't getting the support it used to."
Although her husband cannot send photos, Mrs. Scadden sends pictures taken with a camera the couple purchased with the wedding money.
Her mother is proud of her new son-in-law and supports his mission in the war-torn country.
"It's sad that so many people feel like we shouldn't be there," says Williams. "My heart goes out to all who serve their country."
Mother and daughter are working on a care package this recent afternoon. Scadden's only complaint, says his wife, is the distance between them. He discussed a career in the military, but has decided to get out after four years and go to college.
His wife saved all of Scadden's voice mail messages and plays them for her unborn daughter. When she hears her father's voice, she kicks, says the young mother, rubbing her belly.
Scadden is in an area of Iraq that hasn't seen much action lately, she says, and that brings her some comfort.
The phone rings. A voice on the machine announces the shower cake is ready to be picked up. Mother and daughter launch into discussion of the ladybug nursery theme.
The doorbell rings, and Scadden's mother, Valerie Scadden, of Luray, arrives.
There's some chitchat about the shower, the baby, the growing care package, the latter of which also contains socks, shirts and magazines. The younger Mrs. Scadden says she received a good report during her last doctor's visit.
So many life changes, so fast, so young.
The Marine's mother is not the least bit surprised, however, that her son joined the military. Beneath his tough, muscle-bound exterior, is a big heart, she says.
"I guess Kevin has always had a strong personality and wanted to make a difference," she says, taking a seat on the sofa.
Coming from such a large family he is the second oldest it's the children in Iraq who tug at her son's heartstrings, she says. One of her fears, she says, is that he will see Iraqi children maimed and injured.
"Who can say they are pro-war? I am not pro-death, certainly not," she says.
What she does believe, however, is that the United States should not leave Iraq until the job is done. For her, that means a government that has the ability to serve its people. She uses the analogy of a bike with training wheels. The training wheels should be gone; balance should be in place.
"I think we will be there many years," says Valerie Scadden.
With so many children, Valerie Scadden has little down time, but when she finds her mind going to dark places, she says she prays for her son. Most of all, she says she hopes the experience doesn't leave him disillusioned about life.
"Even if I don't know where he is, I know he is in the heart of Jesus, and he knows where he is," she says.
Both her son and her new daughter-in-law have tremendous faith, she says, and garner much of their strength as a couple from their shared values. Other soldiers seek her son out in times of struggle, in a sort of lay ministry in the desert. He is also a very good cook, his mother adds, smiling, and that draws many of his comrades to him.
All three women agree that premature withdrawal of U.S. forces would be devastating to the young democracy. They hear their share of comments, listen and go on. Adding presidential politics to the rhetoric only makes it harder, they agree.
The newest Mrs. Scadden says the war cannot be reduced to numbers, statistics and political parties. Lives are at stake, and one of them happens to be her husband's.
Although they have been separated for most of their short union, she says she believes it will make their marriage stronger.
The young woman chooses to look forward, plan for her future with her husband and child to see ladybugs.
"I don't believe he is losing his faith or he is struggling," she says.
NEXT WEEK: A New Market native with Purple Hearts from Afghanistan and Iraq reflects on his service.
* Contact Natalie Austin at firstname.lastname@example.org