Nathaniel Shurter (courtesy Big Hearts Under the Big Sky)
Nathaniel Shurter and his wife Olivia (courtesy Big Hearts Under the Big Sky)

HELENA – Staff Sergeant Nathaniel Shurter was honored last week for his military service and sacrifices for our country.

Big Hearts Under the Big Sky and the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association gathered together to honor the veteran.

Around a dinner table at the Montana City Grill and Saloon Tuesday night, Shurter, his wife Olivia and outfitters and guides that are part of the Big Hearts Under the Big Sky program shared stories from their Montana adventures.

Big Hearts Under The Big Sky provides fully outfitted hunting and fishing trips to military service members and children suffering from terminal diseases. The program took Nathan and his wife on one of their trips.

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Mac Minard was the trip ambassador and is Executive Director of the Big Hearts Under the Big Sky program.

The trip was based out of the Elk Horn Mountains, near Jefferson City, Nathaniel and Olivia stayed in a scenic home and hunted in that area. Nathaniel brought home a bull elk.

“Oh gosh, the moment when Nathan put the bull down I started beating Mac (Executive Director Big Hearts Under the Big Sky) on his shoulder like ‘yeah he did he did it'” said Olivia.

“Everybody involved in the Big Hearts Program walks away as a better person as a result of it,” said Minard.

Shurter was nominated for the Big Hearts program by his former commander.

Nathaniel and others in his unit were wounded by an IED in Afghanistan, his Staff Sergeant Wes Williams was killed by the blast. Shurter was MEDEVAC’d to Germany for wounds on his legs and arm and then made the choice to return back to his platoon.

“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,” said Minard.

Nathan and Olivia said that their guides and ambassadors have become like family, and they are grateful for the once in a lifetime trip.

“Montana’s the best, everybody here that’s been a part of it even people who weren’t apart of it, we met people why we were hunting like hey you need help, there’s nothing we can say to make up for it,” said Nathaniel.

The people at Big Hearts Under the Big Sky said thank you to Nathaniel and his wife for their sacrifices.

“These are a selfless couple, committed to the country, committed to each other, and service beyond themselves,” said Minard.

Nathaniel was recognized as a gifted team leader, who was working with the best squad leader in the company.  In 2012-2013 his platoon was conducting combat operations in the historic Sperwan Ghar area of Panjwai, Afghanistan, a known hotbed and the heart of Taliban operations.

The guest stood up and clapped for Nathaniel and Olivia. They both said it was a humbling experience.

For more information about Big Hearts Under the Big Sky click here.

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