By Tonya Garner: CNJ Staff Writer
She was working for a loan company near Fort Benning, Ga. He was a soldier who came in to make regular payments. And then he started coming in to purchase money orders. And then just to buy stamps. Pretty soon, she suspected he was inventing reasons to see her.
Finally, after about a month, Army Sgt. Robert Paul Kassin worked up the nerve to ask her out on a date.
A serious relationship developed almost immediately, and they dated for the next 18 months. A wedding date was set for March, but then he received orders for deployment.
“He really wanted us to get married before he left,” Judy Kassin said on Tuesday from her home in Phenix City, Ala.
The wedding took place Feb. 8. A few days later, Robert Kassin left his new family, which included Judy’s two daughters, for duty in Afghanistan. Army officials said he was killed Sunday when his platoon was attacked by small-arms fire while on patrol.
Judy Kassin said she will forever remember her husband as giving and caring.
She said he embraced her daughters as his own and enjoyed playing video games with them.
“He made time for them every night he was home,” she said. “He never acted like they weren’t his.”
Judy Kassin said one memory of her husband particularly stands out in her mind — the only time they ever disagreed.
“I don’t even remember what it was about,” she said, “but it was over something silly.” She said she called him on his cell phone to ask for a hug.
She didn’t have to wait long because he was waiting just outside the house.
During his deployment, Judy Kassin said her husband sent letters and e-mailed any time he was near a computer. He called her his “angel,” she said, and told her she had restored his faith in God.
She said she will always carry a picture of her husband in her mind, tall and good looking, walking around with his military haircut.
And she has physical reminders as well, most recently gifts he sent from Afghanistan — decorated heart-shaped boxes he made for each of his “angels,” she said.
“I always knew he was thinking of us.”