More than about the fish
Wounded Warriors, disabled veterans take to the water
Though the fishing aspect was a hit, the Wounded Warrior and disabled veterans event held Oct. 11 at Greenwell State Park in Hollywood was really wasn’t about the fishing at all.
The event, which was sponsored by Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing and supported by the Southern Maryland chapter of the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishing Association, the Greenwell Foundation, the Maryland Park Service and the Tackle Box in Lexington Park, was organized to get some veterans a day out on the water.
Jim Colson, who served two tours in Vietnam and two tours in the Mediterranean and was a Navy recruiter for three years, lost part of his hearing while working as an electronic technician on the USS Saratoga and USS Independence aircraft carriers. He also worked on the radar systems.
“I had a great time,” said the retired 69-year-old Drayden resident. “[The highlight today was] catching two on one [bottom rig]. I thought it was great.”
“I didn’t catch a fish, not a thing, but it was enjoyable and relaxing,” said 59-year-old Thomas Huff, a chaplain and photographer who served in the United States Marine Corps and was stationed in San Diego and Alaska. “I had a good time.”
Project Healing Waters assisted in transporting
the veterans, the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishing Association coordinated the boats and mates, the Greenwell Foundation supplied the rods and reels and the Tackle Box provided the bait at cost. In addition, Mission BBQ provided a discount on the post-fishing meal.
“It’s the power of the partnership between four organizations to make this thing happen,” said Phil Zalesak, president of the Southern Maryland chapter of the MSSA. “I know I sound like a broken record, but it doesn’t get any better than that.”
It didn’t look good in the early going as Wednesday dawned dark and gloomy with a steady, unrelenting rain.
“I prayed last night [for good weather],” Zalesak said, “and we have no lightning and very little wind, so we’ll fish today.”
Aboard the “Right Side”, a 46-foot Markley captained by David Meiser, the fishing was slow going early on as the 53-year-old Solomons resident navigated to potential fishing spots.
“It’s fun to be out on the water and to get these vets out,” said Meiser, who took a day off from his job as an engineer at Patuxent River Naval Air Station. “It’s a good thing to do. It’s a lot of fun and it’s fun to talk to them and hear about what they did. It was a good day. Took day off. I just wanted to give back. When you can, you try to do as much as you can, right?”
Meiser finally found the fish and it was Nancy Ward who broke the ice with a small flounder.
“It was a great, great day,” said Ward, who served six years in the Women’s Army Corps and did two tours in Germany and also worked at Fort Hood in Texas and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda. “It’s nice to get out.”
Colson later hooked his doubleheader of a spot and pufferfish in the shadows of the Gov. Thomas Johnson Memorial Bridge near Point Patience, as his daughter Jamie smiled from ear-toear and snapped photos.
Meiser’s father, Tom, who was acting as first mate, later hooked a few fish of his own.
“Oh, it was absolutely a lot of fun,” said Tom Meiser, a retired program manager who lives in Lexington Park. “I think whoever served deserves more and more of this type of thing. We caught some fish, not as many as expected or as many as I had hoped for, but we got some fish.”
Other participating captains and their boats included Dennis Fleming and the “Fishamajig”, Martin Duby and the “Em n M”, Parran Wilkinson and the “Seas the Day”, Tim Floyd and the “Comfortably Numb”, Russell Bowie and the “Bay Wolf”, and John Stillwell and the “Refish”.
One boat was able to land 16 spot and several anglers went home with small bags of fish for dinner. Tournament winners were Gerald Douglas (most fish), Robert Shawn (largest) and Donald Ford (smallest).
“It was nice to see them get out,” Tom Meiser said of the veterans. “And if they weren’t here, where would they be?”
Jamie Colson, left, checks her father Jim Colson’s bottom rig during the Wounded Warrior fishing outing on Oct. 11.