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"Big Hearts Under The Big Sky" honors military veteran for servi - KRTV News in Great Falls, Montana

"Big Hearts Under The Big Sky" honors military veteran for service

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Army veteran Nathaniel Shurter was honored last week by the Montana Outfitters & Guides Association's program "Big Hearts Under the Big Sky" for his military service.

Big Hearts Under The Big Sky provides fully-outfitted hunting and fishing trips to military service members and also children suffering from terminal diseases.

Shurter and his wife Olivia took a trip in the Elkhorn Mountains near Jefferson City. Nathaniel brought home a bull elk.

At the Montana City Grill & Saloon on Tuesday night, Nathaniel and Olivia shared stories from their adventure, which they called a humbling experience.

Mac Minard, trip ambassador and executive director for Big Hearts Under The Big Sky, said everybody involved with the program walks away as a better person.

Shurter was nominated for the trip by his former commander. He and others in his unit were wounded by an IED in Afghanistan. Staff Sergeant Wes Williams was killed.

Shurter was flown to Germany for leg and arm wounds. He later decided to return to his platoon.

Minard explained, "Nathan asked the question, 'Why me?' and the answer to that is 'Nathan, you are the vessel in which we are going to pour this love and appreciation and honor your service and we are doing it on behalf of everyone just like you, you are going to be the one to carry that.'"

Nathaniel and Olivia said their guides and ambassadors have become like family over the past week and they are grateful for the once-in-a-lifetime trip.

"Montana's the best. We met people while we were hunting, like, 'Hey, you need help?'" Nathaniel said. "There's nothing we can say to make up for it."

Nathaniel was also recognized as a gifted team leader who worked with the best squad leader in the company. 

In 2012 and 2013, his platoon conducted combat operations in the historic Sperwan Ghar area of Panjwayi, Afghanistan, a known hotbed and the heart of Taliban operations.

Click here to learn more about the Big Hearts Under The Big Sky program.

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