In His Honor: Fallen Soldier’s Fiancé Joining The Marine Corps

November 12, 2011

As Americans paused and honored those that served on Veterans Day, Madeline Cates was making plans to honor her late fiancé by following in his footsteps into the Marines.

Madeline was to marry LCpl Travis Nelson when he returned from service with the Marines in Afghanistan. She had picked out her dress just before he lost his life serving his country half a world away in August.

“It wasn’t suppose to happen,” Madeline Cates said about the death her soulmate. “He was the love of my life.”

She was unimaginably heartbroken, her world torn apart. LCpl. Nelson had reported to duty but would never finish his tour. The marriage she had dreamed about would never happen.

Then Madeline began to think. What if she joined the Marines and finished LCpl Travis Nelson’s tour? She had never, ever in her life considered joining the military.

“Something just drove me to do it; it was driving me crazy. I could not just keep sitting here,” she said. “”I have to do something with my life, and I couldn’t think of a better way to honor him than to follow in his footsteps.”

Madeline Raye Cates, 21, took her oath to the United States Marines recently. She’s due to report to boot camp in Paris Island, South Carolina, on March 5 of next year.

She will be on two missions — the mission assigned by her Marine superiors, and a mission to complete the tour of LCpl. Travis Nelson.

“I want to finish what he started,” Madeline said.

Pictured top: During a ceremony Tuesday to dedicate a Bratt park in the name of LCpl. Travis Nelson, his fiancé Madeline Cates (center) comforts his niece Amber Whitehurst (left) and sister Anna Nelson. Pictured inset: Madeline Cates with the memorial that honors her fiancé LCpl. Travis Nelson. photos, click to enlarge.


22 Responses to “In His Honor: Fallen Soldier’s Fiancé Joining The Marine Corps”

  1. Geneva Parish on November 21st, 2011 1:16 pm

    This is one of the most honorable thing that anyone could do for their country and to honor Travis. I don’t think many people would ever do this. God bless you and keep safe. I know your family could be nothing but proud of you but at the same time be afraid for you as any parent would be.

  2. Brandy on November 20th, 2011 8:45 am

    This is definitely one of the most honorable stories I have ever heard! You are truly a young woman with Great morals & determination! There is no greater way to honor your lost loved one!! He will be with you every step of your journey in your heart and as your angel! Thank you for your service & sacrifice… it will not be forgotten!

  3. Jerry Ulibarri on November 19th, 2011 11:41 am

    Amazing young woman. In this age of false commitments and instant gratification, is is positively heartening to see such powerful loyalty and courage.

    Godspeed, Madeline Cates. I wish you all the very best!

  4. J. Gary Smith on November 17th, 2011 12:03 pm

    May God guide you and watch over you every second of every day! I believe Travis is watching, his chest bursting with pride!

  5. Mickey Powell on November 14th, 2011 7:00 pm

    There can never be a better tribute by anyone in this world, doing what you are doing Madeline. This world needs more Scott’s, Beckies and Madaline’s

    Mickey Powell

  6. Bratt Friend on November 13th, 2011 8:04 pm

    Madeline, I dont know you at all but I have had a very heavy heart for you and Travis’s family ever since this tragedy started, I think about all of you often and this truly brings tears to my eyes to think about the love you have for Travis and our country and what a remarkable most brave honor you are doing. Thank you for what you are doing. May God bless you and your family and Travis’s family.

  7. Becky on November 13th, 2011 3:18 am

    an honorable gesture that trully brings tears to my eyes. God Bless the USA!

  8. ThePowerMan on November 12th, 2011 9:59 pm

    Don’t even know Madeline…..but you are someone that alot of kids will inspire to be like one day. I am about 20 yrs older than you and I still look up to you. You go and finish what the love of you life started and someday I will read about your path outside the Marine Core. I am not worthy of all the Hu-Raaa stuff…….But YOU are definately worth saluting! Even Now! Thank YOU for having the courage and faith to go an protect people like me. You will be a leader in whatever you do. My family will be cheering and praying for you.

  9. Kim on November 12th, 2011 7:18 pm

    WOW! A truely amazing woman. Your soul mate will be with u all the way. I am so very proud of you. May God bless you.

  10. bigbill1961 on November 12th, 2011 3:35 pm

    As a veteran, I salute you, young lady. What an awesome way to honor his memory. May God bless you and keep you safe.

  11. Kathy and Steven Rhodes on November 12th, 2011 1:56 pm

    Maddy, you KNOW how proud we are of you and how much we love you. You also know that Beckie, Scott, Anna and the entire Nelson family as well as your own are behind you all the way(and so are all of your friends and as you can tell from posts here, complete strangers)

    You are the most beautiful, determined, caring young lady I know and I BELIEVE in you. Trav will be there by your side pushing and cheering you on every step of the way as will the rest of us.

    Semper Fi Maddy…Semper Fi!

  12. for justice on November 12th, 2011 1:26 pm

    Remarkable!! It’s never easy to lose someone so close to your heart. The great thing of your journey is you will not be alone. This is awesome.. God Bless you!

  13. Donna Price on November 12th, 2011 12:42 pm

    Im so proud of you Maddie. We love you and are always praying for you!

  14. mom on November 12th, 2011 10:58 am

    This sounds like a story for THE TODAY SHOW…anybody know how to get it to them? Madeline, what a beautiful message your sending to everyone. How brave and honorable you have been….. and are. I will be thinking and praying for you on your new journey and for your safety. I wish you the best in your life, you deserve it!

  15. me on November 12th, 2011 10:26 am

    She never got to say her vows, but she stands behind them better than many people these days. She has values and strength we need defending our country. Good luck and remember you will have all of us supporting you.

  16. Jodi on November 12th, 2011 10:19 am

    WOW!! This is great,I see why Travis loved you…You have a wonderful heart & soul. Travis will be your Angel as you persue your future in the Marine Corp..You Rock Madeline!!

  17. jus me on November 12th, 2011 10:17 am

    You go girl!!!! Travis we love and miss you so much!!!!!

  18. Molino Mom on November 12th, 2011 7:41 am

    I do not know you but this is the sweetest most honorable story I have ever heard!
    I applaud you! You seem to be an extremely strong person. I am so sorry for your loss. I would think Travis would be ever so proud of you. May God be with you and keep you safe in your journeys.
    God Bless You!!

  19. regina gohagan on November 12th, 2011 7:03 am

    May God guide your every step – what a tribute to the love of your life.

  20. David on November 12th, 2011 6:48 am

    That’s quite an honorable decision young lady. God bless you!

  21. Dani on November 12th, 2011 5:52 am

    This is absolutely amazing. What a wonderful way to honor LCpl Nelson! Words just can not express how truly amazing this young woman must be.

  22. Megan on November 12th, 2011 12:54 am

    I love you Madeline!!! I’m so happy you are doing this =) You are an amazing person and I am so thankful I got to become such great friends with someone like you.

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