|Soldiers converge on Reelfoot for 2 days of fishing, camaraderie |
|Posted: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 9:00 pm |
By KEVIN BOWDEN
TOP-Talking about their fishing plans Sgt. Jeff Wilson, Staff Sgt. James Rayburn and local fisherman and Strike King representative Brent Callicott. BOTTOM-Jeff Martin, welcomed Army Spc. Stephanie Drone and fellow Army Spc. Keileigh Bridge
A couple of days of fishing on Reelfoot Lake is just what the doctor ordered for a group of 10 soldiers associated with the Wounded Warrior Project™ based out of Fort Campbell, Ky.
The soldiers, eight men and two women, arrived in Lake County Tuesday afternoon and were treated to a barbecue dinner at the Tiptonville Fire Department Tuesday evening.
“We appreciate ya’ll coming,” fishing guide Brent Work said as he and others welcomed the group of soldiers.
The soldiers are involved in the HOAH (Healing Outside of a Hospital) program, which encourages activities such as the Reelfoot Lake fishing trip as a way to ease the transition from military duty to civilian life for the soldiers.
“We’re very honored y’all are here tonight,” Work told the soldiers.
There was a definite sense of patriotism at Tuesday evening’s barbecue dinner. The group of soldiers was thanked several times for their military service, American flags were handed out and the entire evening was cloaked in mutual appreciation. The soldiers all expressed their appreciation for the Southern hospitality shown to them and the hosts thanked the soldiers for their service.
“This is just absolutely amazing,” Sgt. Jeff Wilson said after dinner, adding that he was “overwhelmed” by how well he and his fellow soldiers were being treated. “It gives us goose bumps just thinking about it.”
Everything for the soldiers’ two-day visit to Reelfoot Lake was donated by businesses. Organizers of the fishing trip said it was no trouble getting businesses to step up and get involved when they found out the fishing trip was for American soldiers.
“People need to learn from this kind of hospitality,” Staff Sgt. James Rayburn said. “I can’t wait to get out on the water.”
The soldiers enjoyed a breakfast at Lakeview Dining Room early today and then hit the waters of Reelfoot Lake for a day of fishing. A fish fry was planned at the Tiptonville Fire Department this evening.
The two-day fishing trip was arranged through the Wounded Warrior Project™ and involved a large group of volunteers from the Reelfoot Lake area. Some of the most skilled fishing guides on the lake donated their time today and Thursday to guide the soldiers.
Local fisherman, outdoor columnist and Strike King representative Brent Callicott was on hand Tuesday at the barbecue dinner and presented each of the soldiers with more than $300 worth of donated fishing gear.
Jeff Martin with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency was one of the key organizers for the two-day fishing trip. He said he was very pleased with how well the event came together.
There was even talk about making the fishing trip an annual event.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Published in The Messenger 4.11.12