Hornets, Bank of America To Honor Staff Sergeant Samantha Christopher, USMC, and Sergeant Benjamin Christopher, USMC, RET., As First Yellow Ribbon Recipients of 2019-20 Season
November 22, 2019 – The Charlotte Hornets and Bank of America tomorrow will honor Staff Sergeant Samantha Christopher, USMC, and Sergeant Benjamin Christopher, USMC, Ret., a husband-and-wife duo who were both awarded the Purple Heart for injuries sustained two weeks apart in 2013 while serving in Afghanistan, as this season’s first recipients of the season-long Yellow Ribbon Program. In partnership with Bank of America, the Hornets honor military service members and veterans for their unwavering service to our country and their impact in the community. The Yellow Ribbon Program recognizes these heroes during Hornets home games throughout the season. Recipients are acknowledged prior to the national anthem and during an on-court presentation, and given six tickets to the game. In addition, the Hornets make a $1,000 donation to their charity of choice. Staff Sergeant Samantha Christopher and Sergeant Benjamin Christopher have selected Purple Heart Homes.
“Staff Sergeant Samantha Christopher and Sergeant Benjamin Christopher have an incredible story to tell and deserve our gratitude for putting their lives on the line for our country,” said Hornets Sports & Entertainment President & Vice Chairman Fred Whitfield. “For them to have both suffered serious brain injuries in IED attacks two weeks apart, both received the Purple Heart, and both recovered to spend their lives together is a testament to their commitment to their country and to each other.”
Staff Sergeant Samantha Christopher and Sergeant Benjamin Christopher enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at the ages of 20 and 18, respectively. They both completed boot camp at Parris Island, along with Marine Combat Training and Motor Transport Operator Training, and were assigned to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, where they were attached to Combat Logistics Battalion 8 and deployed to Afghanistan six months later. Both returned from deployment in August 2011, at which time they took on roles in leadership and training that included running remotely operated weapon systems and training Marines on vehicle rollovers. Sergeant Benjamin Christopher also attended Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructor School (MAI) and Machine Gun Instructor School.
Both were again deployed to Afghanistan for a second tour of duty in early 2013. On April 21, 2013, Staff Sergeant Samantha Christopher and her truck team were struck by an IED while traveling between bases on a resupply mission. She suffered a traumatic brain injury, along with a number of other wounds, for which she was later awarded the Purple Heart. Two weeks later, on May 5, 2013, Sergeant Benjamin Christopher was serving as security team leader and machine gun noncommissioned officer (NCO) for his platoon when his truck team was struck by IEDs. He too suffered a traumatic brain injury and was later awarded the Purple Heart.
Later in 2013, after returning from their second deployment and having served alongside one another for more than four years, Staff Sergeant Samantha Christopher and Sergeant Benjamin Christopher were married. Staff Sergeant Samantha Christopher served an additional five years with the Marine Corps Reserves. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from UNC Charlotte in 2018 and is currently working toward a bachelor’s degree in nursing at Gardner-Webb University. Sergeant Benjamin Christopher works as an HVAC installer. Earlier this year, the Christopher family moved to Grover, North Carolina, where he started a fishing business on their property called Christopher’s Carp Lake.
Last season’s Yellow Ribbon honorees were Command Sergeant Major Steven Johnson, USA, Ret.; Colonel Cristina Moore, North Carolina Army National Guard; Lieutenant Colonel Michael Krueger, USAF, Ret.; and Senior Master Sergeant Melvin Barnes, USAF, Ret. To nominate a military service member or veteran for the Yellow Ribbon Program, please visit hornets.com/community/military.