They met five years ago and their friendship blossomed through phone calls, emails and long conversations.
They married two years later. From the beginning, Sarah Sitton understood what it meant to marry a soldier. She knew the commitment and worry she would have about U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Sitton.
Now she's preparing for the rest of her life without him.
"I don't even know what I'm going to do next week," said Sarah Sitton, of Riverview. "Right now I know what I'm doing today. And I really don't know what's happening tomorrow. So for now it's just getting by each day."
Sarah Sitton held a news conference Wednesday afternoon at Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office headquarters to thank the community for its support following the death of her husband. Matthew Sitton, 26, died last week when he stepped on an improvised explosive device while on foot patrol in Afghanistan.
During the news conference, Sarah Sitton, who wore her husband's dog tags on a necklace, spoke of her husband and his commitment to the military and to his family. She was flanked by her mother, Sandra Castle, who held Sarah and Matthew's son, 9-month-old Brodey.
"Nothing can take back what happened," Sarah Sitton said. "But I still live and love a free country. Even though he was taken from me, he died fighting for what he believed in."
Matthew Sitton, who grew up in Largo, was a great athlete and a star baseball player at Indian Rocks Christian School, Sarah Sitton said. He was a cut-up who liked to make others laugh, she said.
His passion for baseball turned into a love affair with the Army. He loved the challenge of new assignments and had been deployed overseas three times. He was a well-trained sniper and was thrilled to be a Ranger and a part of the infantry, Sarah Sitton said.
"It came to him naturally," Sarah Sitton said.
He was supposed to return home in September. Matthew wanted to spend time with Sarah and their son. They were preparing to move to North Carolina.
Sarah Sitton said now their families and his military friends will work together to teach Brodey about his father.
"We're just going to teach him all about what he was and what he stood for," Sarah Sitton said. "He stood for the American country and he was going to fight for it no matter what. He wouldn't of had it any other way."
Funeral arrangements haven't been finalized. Sarah Sitton hopes the community comes out to honor her husband once the date is set for services and the honor procession through town.
"I want everyone there who wants to support him," Sarah Sitton said. "He died an American hero. He died fighting for our freedom.
"Now it's time for everyone else to celebrate him and to celebrate what he did," she said. "And to show their support for everything that he gave up."