More than about the fish

The Calvert Recorder - - Sports - By MICHAEL REID mreid@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @SOMDhab­s­fan

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?”

STAFF PHO­TOS BY MICHAEL REID

Jamie Col­son, left, checks her fa­ther Jim Col­son’s bot­tom rig dur­ing the Wounded War­rior fish­ing out­ing on Oct. 11.

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