24 vet­er­ans join in Stars & Stripers tour­na­ment

Record Observer - - Community -

CH­ESTER — The 7th an­nual Project Heal­ing Wa­ters Stars & Stripers Fly-Fish­ing tour­na­ment took place Satur­day, Aug. 20, hosted again by Do­min­ion Ma­rina. The event has been held there for the past seven years, as Viet­nam War vet­eran, U.S. Army Ma­jor (Re­tired) Ed­win “Doc” C. Ful­ton, owner of the ma­rina, has made this event a pri­or­ity each year.

Ful­ton said, “I do this be­cause I’m a dis­abled vet­eran my­self. I know what it takes to get back into civil­ian life and the struggles it takes to make the ad­just­ments af­ter be­ing wounded/in­jured. I know what these vet­er­ans are go­ing through.”

The re­cip­i­ent of two Purple Hearts for his 16 month of ser­vice in Viet­nam, 1970-71, Ful­ton served as a medic. He was most se­verely in­jured when a he­li­copter he was fly­ing in crashed in Viet­nam.

In civil­ian life, Ful­ton tran­si­tioned to be­come an or­tho­pe­dic sur­geon, and he still prac­tices in Ch­ester. He also has made 11 trips back to Viet­nam with other vet­er­ans, pro­vid­ing free med­i­cal care to Viet­namese cit­i­zens, most re­cently in the fall of 2015.

Ful­ton has de­vel­oped a long­stand­ing al­liance with Project Heal­ing Wa­ters FlyFish­ing, a reg­is­tered 501(c)3 or­ga­ni­za­tion that’s spe­cial mis­sion is to pro­vide re­cre­ational fly-fish­ing ex­pe­ri­ences to wounded vet­er­ans who are still re­cov­er­ing from the in­juries they re­ceived while serv­ing our na­tion. This year was the largest turnout in the past seven years with 24 vet­er­ans com­ing from sev­eral lo­ca­tions where they are cur­rently re­ceiv­ing med­i­cal care from the mil­i­tary.

All who at­tended, vet­er­ans, their fam­ily mem­bers and many lo­cal vol­un­teer boat cap­tains, were pro­vided a free hardy hot break­fast early Satur­day morn­ing, be­fore a pa­tri­otic open­ing cer­e­mony took place. An Amer­i­can flag do­nated to Do­min­ion Ma­rina, that had flown in Afghanistan dur­ing Op­er­a­tion En­dur­ing Free­dom in 2012, was raised as young Brandi Squibb, 11, of Centreville, sang “God Bless Amer­ica” a capella, fol­lowed by “The Star-Span­gled Ban­ner.” It was the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year Brandi has per­formed at this event.

The vet­er­ans then went out in the Eastern Ch­e­sa­peake Bay fly-fish­ing for four hours, haul­ing in huge num­bers — es­pe­cially rock­fish — in a catch and re­lease pro­gram. One vet­eran, John Jenk­ins, caught 80 Rock­fish in four hours. An­other, for­mer U.S. Marine Cap­tain Kim Smith, caught 26 rock­fish and two Amer­i­can shad fish.

Project Heal­ing Wa­ters Co­or­di­na­tor Mark Eus­tic pre­sented awards to Jenk­ins and Smith, as well as for the largest and sec­ond largest fish caught in the tour­na­ment. Largest was a 22-inch rock­fish caught by Lee Bar­bee; sec­ond largest, 21-inch rock­fish caught by vet­eran Crys­tal Carr.

Eustis also in­tro­duced water­man Gary Neitzey, who founded the lo­cal fly-fish­ing ex­cur­sion seven years ago, be­gin­ning with only two boats, his own and that of an­other lo­cal water­man.

Neitzey said, “We just wanted to take some wounded vet­er­ans out fish­ing — that’s how it started.”

Af­ter re­turn­ing the ma­rina, the vet­er­ans were greeted with four bushels of steamed crabs do­nated by Fish­er­man’s Crab Deck, and steamed and fried clams do­nated by many lo­cal water­man in the area, in­clud­ing the Ring­gold fam­ily, Jesse, Josh, Johnny, Deb­bie, Jean and Jack; David and Bran­don Bax­ter; Vic­tor Jones; Mike Gard­ner; Frank Schultz; Billy Ben­ton; Alice Moore; and Ja­son Ruth.

The fol­low­ing lo­cal busi­nesses also contributed with do­na­tions: in Ch­ester, Wester Marine, The Flower Shop, Ch­e­sa­peake Out­doors; in Gra­sonville, Har­ris Crab House, Rental Works, Bryan’s Farm Stand; and in Stevensville, Peace of Cake. The Kent Is­land Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment also made a con­tri­bu­tion.

PHOTO BY DOUG BISHOP

The big win­ners dur­ing the 7th an­nual Stars & Stripers Heal­ing Wa­ters Fly-Fish­ing event, Satur­day, Aug. 20, from the left, Pas­cal Award win­ner Kim Smith, who caught 26 rock­fish and two Amer­i­can shad; John Jenk­ins, who caught 80 rock­fish with fish­ing boat Cap­tain Richie Gaines; Crys­tal Carr, who caught a 21-inch rock­fish; Heal­ing Wa­ters Co­or­di­na­tor Mark Eustis; and Lee Bar­bee who caught the largest rock­fish of the day at 22 inches.

PHOTO BY DOUG BISHOP

Some of the vet­er­ans and their fish­ing boat cap­tains en­joyed a won­der­ful meal of steamed crabs do­nated by Fish­er­man’s Crab Deck, and steamed/fried clams do­nated by many lo­cal water­man fol­low­ing the 7th an­nual Stars & Stripers Heal­ing Wa­ters Fly-Fish­ing event, held at Do­min­ion Ma­rina, Satur­day, Aug. 20.

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