Wife waits while husband serves country abroad

Wednesday, June 11, 2003
By KELLY ICARDI, klicardi@naplesnews.com

It's been 4 months since Katie Shadle's husband left with the National Guard for the Middle East.

Sgt. Chad Shadle had been a firefighter with the Golden Gate Fire Control and Rescue District only a week when he was called away.

"In the beginning, it was not so bad." Katie said. "Originally he was stationed in Jordan and now it's more nerve-wracking than anything."

Katie Shadle, 24, of Golden Gate Estates, and daughter Courtney, 19 months, wait for the return of husband and father, Sgt. Chad Shadle, an Army National Guardsman, who was called to duty Jan. 14, his birthday. Chad has been stationed in Iraq the past three weeks after spending time in Jordan. Gary Coronado/Staff

He received his papers to go overseas on Jan. 14, his 32nd birthday.

When Katie last spoke to her husband two weeks ago he was heading to southern Iraq. He told her morale was changing among the once-upbeat troops.

"Now they are getting down," she said. "They are tired and worn out. It's hard having everyone over there when you're not wanted over there."

Although Katie grew up in Marco Island and Chad grew up in Fort Myers, they did not meet in Florida.

They were both in North Carolina when they were introduced by mutual friends. Though it was their friends who were interested in one another, Katie and Chad were the ones to end up married. She said their connection was instant because of their Florida ties.

However, Katie and Chad are no stranger to distance. They've experienced it before. The couple was separated for the first year of their marriage because he was in the Army at Fort Bragg, N.C., and she remained in Florida with her parents.

"We've always had the distance," she said. "But it makes our relationship stronger."

Sgt. Chad Shadle, of Golden Gate Estates, in a photo taken while in the Army at Fort Bragg, N.C. Chad served more than three years in the Army before switching to the National Guard. Photo courtesy the Shadle family

On July 24 they will celebrate their fifth anniversary, and Katie is optimistic.

"Hopefully, he will be home by then," she said.

The National Guard has said it could be as long as a year until her husband returns from duty.

In the meantime, the firefighters at Golden Gate have stepped up to support Katie and the couple's 19-month-old daughter, Courtney, while Chad is away.

"Everyone (at the fire department) is kinda hanging around and waiting to hear from him," firefighter David Cranor said. "When we got our first letter from him, all anyone did was read the letter."

Cranor worked with Chad while they both trained for the fire academy.

"Chad is certainly a good guy to know and I always looked forward to seeing him," Cranor said.

Andy Krajewski, a driver-engineer for the fire district, echoed Cranor's sentiment of brotherhood among the firefighters.

"It's tough knowing that he's out there when he should be with us," Krajewski said. "We'll be here for him if he needs us."

Katie said that people in the community have come forward with their support, including a firefighter from East Naples and local schoolchildren.

"We've had so many care packages sent to him," she said. "He couldn't carry it all before he left for Jordan."