Monday, April 16, 2012

Turkeys can be Love Birds Too

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.


  1. Oh my, that's an awesome story. Thank you to Hope for the Warriors for making it happen and thank you to Samantha for sharing your story.

  2. What a great story! Samantha, there are so many fellow Marine Corps spouses by your side, in spirit, cheering you on!

  3. It was such a pleasure to meet Samantha and her upbeat attitude towards life and her bright future. I roomed with her and knowing she had lost her husband, i was at a loss for words since my husband had made it through his injuries and her's did not. That was the first time in a long time i was at a loss of words. We we're able to open up to each other as if we had been friends for years. I now have a friend for life, thanks. H4W for that. Keep your head up and keep moving forward, Mark would be so proud to call you his "wife"


  4. Beautiful story!!! What a strong and amazing woman you are, Samantha!! Isn't the Hope family the best??

  5. You are an inspiration.

  6. Samantha, you are an amazing person, and although you are years younger than I am, you are a role model for me too. My husband was a Marine in Vietnam, and we are so blessed that he survived, and we married, and he taught me to hunt turkeys! I treasure the time we spend together in the woods in full camouflage with painted faces, and the joy we shared the first time I shot a big Tom. Congratulations on fulfilling that dream for both of you and for keeping that part of him alive in your life. God bless you richly! Cary

  7. sam you are a good sport if you read this surely you will no who this is ;red neck girl; you corrected me i miss you are a good sport,you be safe maybe we see each other again one day...