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The Journal Gazette

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Brandon Krontz, left, kisses his bride Samantha Hicks during their wedding at Shepherd's House, 519 Tennessee Ave, Fort Wayne, IN on Sunday. Brandon is a graduate of Shepherd's House and is doing very well in his recovery.  

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Judge Michael Kramer throws out flower petals during the wedding of Brandon Krontz and Samantha Hicks at Shepherd's House, 519 Tennessee Ave, Fort Wayne, IN on Sunday. Brandon is a graduate of Shepherd's House and is doing very well in his recovery.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Brandon Krontz and Samantha Hicks held their wedding at Shepherd's House, 519 Tennessee Ave, Fort Wayne, IN on Sunday. Brandon is a graduate of Shepherd's House and is doing very well in his recovery.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Step-dad Jimy Crouse, left, walks bride Samantha Hicks to the alter during her wedding with Brandon Krontz at Shepherd's House, 519 Tennessee Ave, Fort Wayne, IN on Sunday. Brandon is a graduate of Shepherd's House and is doing very well in his recovery.

Sunday, April 24, 2016 5:37 pm

Veteran marries after finding hope at Shepherd's House

Jamie Duffy | The Journal Gazette

The weather was perfect Sunday when the bride, Samantha Hicks, walked down the aisle and up the steps with her stepfather, Jimy Crouse.

Guests were seated in front of the stone railing draped in white tulle, blue ribbon and flowers at The Shepherd's House on Tennessee Avenue. They watched as the groom, Brandon Krontz, 31, stood on the flag-draped porch, awaiting his bride.

Nearly 100 family members, friends and veterans, many of whom reside at the Shepherd's House, were there to watch as Tracey Barr, house manager and ordained minister, officiated with her husband, Kenny, also a house manager.

A full buffet waited inside complete with hummingbird cakes iced in turquoise and purple, the wedding colors.

It was a much different scene when Krontz arrived at the Shepherd's House in October, 2014. Ordered there by Noble County Superior Court Judge Michael Kramer, the Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran had lost everything to methamphetamine.

"If you looked at his eyes, they looked black," said Barb Cox, Shepherd's House co-founder with her husband, Lonnie, and executive director. "It took about seven months before we saw their beautiful blue. He was just in a dark place."

Krontz had been living in a trailer with no utilities, manufacturing meth, Cox said. "He did several tours that really messed up his head. He turned to drugs. He lost everything - his wife, his children, his home."

Krontz arrived at Shepherd's House with "anxiety, depression and major PTSD," Cox said. But during his stay, "he did a complete 180."

Krontz said the turnaround came with "a really powerful spiritual moment."

Krontz is now working on an associate's degree in criminal justice at Ivy Tech Community College Northeast. He hopes to be a peer counselor for veterans when he completes his degree.

Krontz said he had been arrested before and didn't think any program could help him.

But it was at the Shepherd House where his salvation took place.

"If it weren't for the Shepherd's House and Jesus Christ, I would have never been able to find Jesus like I have," Krontz said in front of staff and Kramer who attended the wedding.

"You look great," Kramer told him, glad that Krontz "had stuck with it. He's a remarkable young man."

Someone else who thinks he is remarkable is his bride. The former Miss Hicks, 24, said she had known him before and didn't really like him. Then he became a different person, she said.

"The Shepherd's House changed him," she said.  Some readers may remember a few months ago when Krontz went down on bended knee at a Komets game in front of 12,000 people and asked her to marry him.

She will stay home to watch the children who, altogether, number seven. That includes Natalia born three weeks ago to the couple.

"I feel blessed," the new Mrs. Krontz said. "I never thought I was getting married." 

jduffy@jg.net