TRUE AMERICAN HEROES
Gratitude: a humble attempt
By Mike Parker
I hope for a few moments you’ll allow me to deviate from my original “Stillwater Fishing” series.
With the events of the last several weeks as well as the recently past 20th anniversary marking the tragic events of 9/11, it got me thinking of all the brave men and women who serve our nation as members of the armed forces.
As a member of a military family – my dad and youngest brother are both United States Marine Corps (U.S.M.C.) combat veterans (Korea and Iraq), and I have another brother who retired after 20 years with the U.S. Navy – I know their sacrifices first hand. I was also very blessed to have shared countless river miles with fellow guides and colleagues, including Brian Bommarito, U.S. Navy; Matt Dahl, U.S.M.C.; and Bryan Quick, United States Air Force. Heck, I’m not even sure if I ever got the chance to thank them all for their service to the country.
I mention the above heroes because I find myself asking, “Have I made even the slightest contribution to our veterans?”
Well, for me, the answer is, “Yes!”
Over the years, I was fortunate and honored, with the support of TFS and its in-house guide staff, as well as several from the area’s independent guide community, to work with groups such as Project Healing Waters and Rivers of Recovery. Both of these groups are dedicated to reestablishing a healthy life for all our veterans through the introduction to the wondrous world of fly fishing. Whether it is classes in rod or net building, fly tying, casting, or simply a fun day on the water, everything is shared free of charge.
Some of my greatest thrills and memories as a guide include watching a 7-year-old catch their first fish, fishing with three generations of anglers, and, most of all, sharing the water with a veteran enjoying the great outdoors. Witnessing the brotherhood and camaraderie that these veterans share is truly heartwarming.
Now I ask, “What can you do?”
Below are several veteran related groups whose mission is to help introduce veterans to our wonderful sport. The next time you plan a trip (maybe to a local trout stream or even a farm pond targeting bass and bluegill), see if it’s at all possible to hook up with a veteran. A brief intro to casting, knot tying, or simply a day on the water works wonders for the soul (yours and theirs).
- Project Healing Waters – projecthealingwaters.org
- Rivers of Recovery – riversofrecovery.org
- Take A Vet Fishing – takeavetfishing.org
- Heroes on the Water – heroesonthewater.org
- Fishing for Heroes – fishingforheroes.com
So please, look up one of these groups – you just might find your next lifelong fishing partner.
Thank you so much for your time,