49th Veteran of the Quarter, Amanda Hoenes, US Marines

December 1, 2022

Amanda Hoenes, Sergeant, USMC graduated from Branson High School in 1999 and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in January 2001. She served from January 2001- November 2006 with one the most highly regarded Marine Medium Helicopter Squadrons, the HMM-268 Red Dragons stationed in Camp Pendleton, California. In 2001, she was the first female Marine to graduate from the West Coast Crew Chief training squadron. In Operation Iraqi Freedom the HMM-268 Red Dragons were the first to cross the border into hostile territory. Their primary mission was casualty evacuation supporting the 1st, 5th, and 7th Marine Regiments across the damaged and broken country of Iraq. She served 3 tours in Iraq during 2003, 2005, and 2006. After returning from her first tour in 2003, she was named 2003 Junior Enlisted Servicewoman of the Year, West Coast. She also received her combat medal along with 11 other air medals and the Bronze Star Combat Award with a ‘V’ for Valor. She received more air medals from the 2nd and 3rd deployments as well.

After leaving the Marine Corps, she started a business and put herself through school, earning a bachelor’s degree in History and a Master’s in Business Administration from Colorado State University. She then launched a 10-year career in Information Technology for companies in Bozeman, MT, and Menomonee Falls, WI. A mass layoff during COVID-19 ended up being a surprise blessing that forced her to confront what she really wanted to do next with her life. She sold her house, bought an RV, and traveled this great country seeing many places, meeting many interesting new people, and reconnecting with her Marine comrades, old friends, and family along the way. During the 5 months of her travels, she continued to contemplate her next moves. In June 2021 she ended up back at her parents’ ranch outside Cedarcreek on Bull Shoals Lake.  The Ozarks of Missouri is where she developed her passion for the outdoors: fishing, hunting, canoeing, camping, hiking, swimming, waterskiing, etc. It was here that she decided to stage her next move which had been a childhood dream… to paddle solo in a canoe with just her dog, Hank, over 3300 miles from Three Forks, MT to the Gulf of Mexico on the Missouri & Mississippi Rivers (July 11, 2021-Jan 18, 2022). The trip took her almost 6 months, spending 175 days and nights on the river camping along its banks. She was privy to amazing scenes in nature that humans don’t get to witness usually. It re-ignited her passion and appreciation for wildlife, nature, and the sustainability of both. She says it is hands down the hardest thing she’s ever done. There were plenty of times she wanted to quit, and every day was a constant lesson in patience, perseverance, and faith. She had many following her trip on her blog site at http://hoenesal.wixsite.com/ariveradventure.

When she completed the river adventure she was asked by her followers if she was going to write a book about her adventure. With great encouragement from a few friends, she is currently working on that book. She was also reminded of another dream she’s had for years to share her passion for the outdoors with kids who may not have the opportunity. True Path Adventures is the name of her new business which she is based out of Cedarcreek, MO currently but will be able to take it on the road to her clients as well. Her goal is to develop and enhancing a child’s leadership, critical thinking, and decision-making skills through structured and guided outdoor adventures. She has conducted a few sessions this summer and hopes to hold more as her schedule allows. Her website is www.truepath-coaching.com to learn more.


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