Taryn was living the “normal” life. She had married her soul mate, was about to graduate college, and had her future with him to look forward to. That was until May 21, 2007
Taryn’s husband had been killed by multiple roadside bombs just an hour and a half after they last spoke. Feeling lost and alone in the new world she’d been thrown into, she began traveling around the country to hear other women’s stories of love, tragedy… and overall survival. In hearing their accounts, she hoped to learn more about the title that been had given to her… that of a military widow.
What began as her own personal journey, has expanded into a non-profit organization, a documentary film, and a growing website. She has grasped on and embraced her new life with all the enthusiasm and passion she had when Michael was still alive. Inspired solely off the willpower and strength of the women “in her shoes” she has found that true love is eternal, that the lessons and things her husband said and did still run through her veins, and mostly….she is not alone.
Tara Fuerst, an intelligence analyst, and her husband, SSG Joseph F. Fuerst III, infantry, had been deployed to Afghanistan for nearly a year when a report came across her computer that a firefight was taking place in Kandahar.
Then, more information on the engagement came in, including the battle roster numbers of the wounded. Among the numbers, one was familiar… “FU8132” and as Tara was taking the report she immediately did a double take, that was Joe.
Estimates put the number of enemy fighters arrayed against ODA 765 and their handful of Afghan allies at more than 200. After hours of waiting for a medevac to retrieve the wounded, Tara Fuerst stood waiting on the flight line for her husband. Two medics who knew her walked toward her with their arms around each other, crying, and their heads down. At that moment, Tara knew Joe had been killed.
Tara struggled for more than two years with the loss of her husband. In the depths of her grief, she became aware of an organization devoted to young military widows called the American Widow Project. The camaraderie she found there helped her cope with her grief and gave her the motivation she needed to live life to the fullest.
Tabbatha and Andy were high school sweethearts. After basic training, he was stationed overseas. The distance quickly made them realize they didn’t want to spend any more time apart.
While Andy prepared for his first deployment, Tabbatha was finishing her last year of college and planning their wedding. After 12 long months of deployment, they were finally able to settle into their married lives in Ft. Stewart, GA. It wasn’t long after arriving that Andy got word that he would be deploying again that following year. Thus, the training and weeks away began.
In May of 2007, Andy deployed a second time. Three months later, on August 11th, Andy and four other soldiers were killed by an IED. For months, Tabbatha felt as if she were standing still and everything was spinning around her. She wanted to escape, to live and laugh, but felt guilty being able to do these things without her best friend.
Through the AWP, Tabbatha has been able to continue Andy’s legacy and experience things she never thought were possible. This organization has opened a new chapter for her, a chapter of love, laughter and healing.
“I will not fail you, my love. I will continue on the path we shared and I know you will be there to help me, as you always were. And when we meet again at the journeys end, and we laugh together once more, I will have a thousand things to tell you.” -Unknown