Sam Huff was born in July 1986 in Tucson, Ariz. Her father, Robert, was a detective who later became a musician, and her mother, Margaret, was a Marine veteran and a supervisor at a suburban Tucson police department. Several of Huff’s relatives had also served in the Marine Corps in other military branches.
Huff attended Mountain View High School and was a drum major during her senior year. At 16, she developed her career plan. She first wanted to enlist in the Army; then, she wanted to attend college to study psychology; lastly, she hoped to join the FBI to profile criminals. She put her plan into motion after graduating high school, enlisting in the Army, and completing basic training.
Huff deployed to Iraq in December 2004. She was a part of the 170th Military Police Company, 504th Military Police Battalion, 42nd Military Police Brigade. The unit was based in Fort Lewis, Wash. In Iraq, the unit helped train local police.
Huff was guarding an Iraqi police station on April 17, 2005, before driving back to her base in a Humvee. On the ride back, the Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb, seriously injuring Huff. She died the next day. She was 18 years old.
After her death, Huff posthumously received a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star Medal and a Good Conduct Medal, all of which her parents accepted on her behalf. A memorial service was held at Casas Adobes Baptist Church in Tucson, Ariz. The marching band at that service played two of her favorite songs, one being from “The Little Mermaid” and another from “Beauty and the Beast.”
Huff had been engaged to a fellow soldier, Pvt. Nicholas Neally. She loved dancing and “was a born leader,” according to one of her high school classmates. Her father stated that, “she couldn’t have turned out any better” and “was as close to perfect as anyone could have been.” The entire Mountain View High School community was devastated by the news of her death.
Immediately prior to her death, Huff told a fellow service member to “tell [her] mom [she] love[d] her and tell [her] dad good luck with his album,” in reference to her father’s musical work. When he finalized his album, her father named it “Sun and Moon,” the first letter of each together spelling out his daughter’s name, Sam.
We honor her service.