Samantha Wehri waits for the next car in her drive-by send-off for the Navy Sunday afternoon in Landeck. A family friend suggested the social-distancing friendly event so everyone could wish Wehri well on her next adventure. (DHI Media/Dena Martz)
Samantha Wehri waits for the next car in her drive-by send-off for the Navy Sunday afternoon in Landeck. A family friend suggested the social-distancing friendly event so everyone could wish Wehri well on her next adventure. (DHI Media/Dena Martz)
LANDECK — Samantha “Sam” Wehri stood by her parents’ car Sunday afternoon with the hatch open and waved and talked to passersby making sure to observe the 6-feet of social distancing. There were no hugs or kisses. No cake or snacks.

Wehri, the daughter of Tony and Amy Wehri, has joined the Navy and with the current mandates for the COVID-19 global pandemic, a going-away party was out of the question for the 2015 St. John’s graduate. Family friend Linda Schulte suggested the drive-by event and the family secured permission from Sr. Immacolata at St. John the Baptist Church in Landeck to use the parking lot of the former Landeck School.

“Linda had this great idea for a way we could share our celebration,” Amy Wehri said. “We wanted to do something but we knew we had to do it safely. It worked out really well.”

The family stopped inside the Landeck church and said the Rosary before heading to the parking lot to greet Sam’s well-wishers.

It was car after car with signs and streamers and a poster board filled with snacks and more.

“They really made her feel special,” Amy said.

Sam graduated from David and Elkins College in West Virginia with a dual degree in criminology and business management.

“My goal was to become a linguist for the federal government for intel collection and translator for spec ops. I want to work for the Department of Defense or some other agency at some point,” Sam said. “The military is really no different. I will learn many new things and have new opportunities.”

The Navy wasn’t Sam’s first choice; she had enlisted in the Air Force when she graduated from college in 2018.

“The Air Force kept postponing everything. I quit a job because I was supposed to leave and then it was postponed so I waited longer and got by keeping up with my fitness,” Sam said. “Then my mom asked me what I was going to do. I had lived at home for nearly three years waiting on the Air Force and nothing was happening. So, I decided to join the Navy instead.”

Sam joined on a dual admittance with officer training and basic training ahead.

“In the Navy, I’ll be a co-pilot of sorts and help with navigation and weapons systems control, etc.,” she said. “Of course, that’s after all my training. “

Sam is ready for her new future.

“I’m going into the service and do what I’m told. There will be uncertainty, that’s what I signed up for. It’s a calling. It’s what I feel I need to do,” she said. “I will trust in my superior officers and what they tell me to do. I’m ready to serve.”

Amy looks at her daughter’s journey as God’s plan.

“We are so excited for her. With the Air Force, it was roadblock after roadblock. She had to keep up with her physical fitness and finally I asked her, ‘What are you going to do?’ She said maybe go back to school or go in the Navy. She decided on the Navy and in less than a month, she was signed up, had taken all the tests and was ready to go,” mom said. “This is God’s plan, it was just a long journey.”

Amy said she isn’t worried about her daughter and what her future in Navy might hold.

“God has always been a big part of our lives. This is God’s plan and she has our full support,” she said. “As long as your kids are happy, good citizens and a positive influence in their communities, that’s all you can ask.”

Sam will be based in Newport, Rhode Island, at Naval Station Newport (NAVSTA).