Purple Heart Veteran Bags Trophy of a Lifetime

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Roger, a decorated veteran, was deployed to Vietnam in September 1969. He bravely served in the 3-506 101st Airborne Infantry, a specialized division of the US Army Infantry. On September 18, 1970, he sustained a battle injury and was admitted to a hospital located in Qui Nhon, south-central Vietnam, where he stayed for a month. The infection did not heal, so he was transferred to a hospital in Japan for another month before finally being taken to the Great Lakes Naval Hospital in Illinois. After two operations, Roger was then medically discharged in January 1971.

Roger regularly applied for a bear hunting license in Wisconsin, but his name had yet to be drawn. He said, “I was excited and grateful to learn Sue Samson had donated her license to me, and I could finally go on a bear hunt.”

Sue shared, “When I applied for the drawing, I had 13 preference points. Having hunted black bears before, I was eager to use my opportunity to make a difference in the life of a critically ill or disabled child or veteran. I was ecstatic to learn that the recipient of my donated bear tag was an Army Purple Heart disabled veteran. I have a special place in my heart for combat veterans, as I too am an Army wartime veteran who served in Desert Storm.”

Tom Hurias contacted Roger before his hunt and provided him with all the necessary information. As the day of the hunt approached, Roger’s excitement grew with every update he received containing pictures from the trail cameras.

Roger arrived at the bear camp in Florence, Wisconsin. He was surprised by the large number of bear hunters who were present to assist him in his hunt. Sue mentioned that she felt an instant bond with Roger because they had both served in the military. Later, Tom, Hans, and Roger went on a UTV to inspect the bait stations. During their inspection, they unexpectedly encountered a bear and two cubs. To ensure their safety, they made loud noises to drive the bears away.

Sue said, “Early that morning, we met several people to assist with Roger’s hunt. We drove into the Nicolet National Forest on a fire lane to release the dogs to track a bear. Within half an hour, the dogs had treed a bear. The guides with the dogs radioed back to send Roger in to shoot the bear. We both went into the woods and headed toward the barking dogs. We both knew it was a big bear when we got to the tree.”

Roger gripped his father’s Remington 700 bolt-action rifle, a cherished family heirloom. He looked through the scope and aimed at the massive bear. With great precision, he made a perfect shot, targeting the vital organs. He followed up with another shot to ensure the 452-pound bear wouldn’t move when it hit the ground. Roger was so excited and trembling with adrenaline as Tom put the rifle safely back in its case.

Roger looked over and asked Sue, “Is this real?” Sue replied, “Yes, it is. This is real, my friend!” Then, she gave Roger a huge hug. Everyone in the bear group was elated for him. The energy among the hunters was palpable.

Sue said joyfully, “I was utterly amazed by the size of the bear. At that moment, I couldn’t tell who was more excited, Roger or me. Everyone involved in the hunt was astonished by the bear’s size. We took it out of the woods and brought it to town to weigh it. I had an incredible feeling inside me, and I was very proud of Roger shooting a trophy black bear. I’m glad I donated my tag to the United Special Sportsman Alliance (USSA) and made a difference in someone’s life. It was indeed a great experience, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat!”

Roger expressed his gratitude with emotion, stating, “I am grateful to everyone who took the time to help me get my bear. It made up for the lack of welcome home we received when we returned from Vietnam.”

We are grateful to Sue Samson for generously donating her bear license, Tom Hurias, and the rest of their bear group for providing a once-in-a-lifetime hunting experience. Congratulations to Roger for bagging a massive bear, and most importantly, thank you for your service in defending our nation’s freedom! God bless!

If you are interested in getting involved, want to donate your 2024 bear license, or know of a deserving youth or veteran, don’t hesitate to contact the United Special Sportsman Alliance