Today I share a love story.  It is unlike any love story that you have read in a book or seen on film.  It is better.  It includes devotion, a promise and sacrifice.  It is both happy and sad.

Samantha met Mark when she was still in high school while working part time at her local Dairy Queen.  They immediately began dating and five years later, on April 16, 2009, the couple married.
Being young, the couple did not have a lot of money.  And since Mark was a Marine, they did not have a lot of time either.  So they agreed that they would save for the perfect Honeymoon—a guided hunting trip.

Although Samantha and Mark did not grow up hunting, they both enjoyed the sport. For the young couple, it was the perfect way to relax together and enjoy nature. They loved being surrounded by the woods, taking in fresh air, the company of only each other.  They also enjoyed a fun competition. Hunting was their favorite activity.

On June 16, 2011, Mark died from injuries that he sustained 13 days prior from an IED in Afghanistan.  It was his fifth overseas deployment.

Samantha made a promise.  She would still go on that trip to honor Mark.  She would hunt in his memory.  She was determined to go on that Honeymoon.

Last week, just a few days before her third Wedding Anniversary, Samantha joined other military spouses and Hope For The Warriors® for a turkey hunting trip in Florida.  Although we have hosted countless service members on hunting trips through our outdoor adventures program, this was the first trip that focused on our spouses.  All of the women loved it.

The time hunting is only one part of the trip.  Each woman on the trip was the spouse of a fallen or wounded service member.  Each have served this country through multiple moves and multiple deployments. They continue to serve by caring for their wounded hero, enduring the emotional ups and downs that come with any medical recovery.  This trip was one way that Hope For The Warriors® nurtures our caregivers.

For Samantha, the trip helped her fulfill her promise. 

“I promised myself that no matter how long it took, I would go on my Honeymoon.  I am so thankful to Hope For The Warriors® for making this amazing trip possible.  It has given me a sense of accomplishment and a sense of closure.”

It is important to share one last detail.  Each woman on the trip was successful and brought home a turkey.  Samantha did better.

“I am the only one that got two turkeys—one for me and one for Mark.”

Happy Anniversary Samantha.  Mark would have been so proud.