Friday for Fishing For Freedom had a very rainy start. We had a storm that poured buckets until about 5 pm. However, the dinner was inside so dry and fishing didn’t start until Saturday. I had the amazing opportunity of meeting some of America ‘s finest. I must be really getting old as these soldiers looked so young. There were families and singles there that shared stories and hopes and dreams. It was so frightening for me, Mom and Grandmother, to hear some of the stories of deployment, past and present. They were the most polite group of guys and gals I have ever had the pleasure of speaking to. Forrest L. Woods , Founder and Owner of Ranger Boats was there to deliver the message. He spoke of his modest accomplishments while celebrating the accomplishments of the American Armed Forces. Tears streamed down the faces of many including mine and his as he spoke of the personal price of our freedom.
Saturday was beautiful for the start of the tournament. it was a crisp 55 degrees and wind of about 10-15. The lake was colored before daylight with lights of the boats preparing to take 230 servicemen fishing. Some had no gear and some came with one rod and reel they had purchased at Academy or Wal-Mart the week before. One soldier speaking to me said he did not know he had to wear a lifejacket and the boater only had a child’s size to share. I offered him the keys to my truck so he could get mine and he wore it. Seconds before “legal light” we presented the National Anthem. I noticed we civilians crossed our hearts with our hands, tthe servicemen saluted the flag. What an emotional display of dedication to what they are doing. As the boats left the dock, they smiled and waved and some looked almost afraid having never ridden in a bass boat at 70 mph. The Navy Coast Guard supplied my media boat. Three young men carried me on the lake to take photos of the guys fishing and riding in bass boats. What a treat!
At the dinner, we had a drawing for a brand new G3 boat, Yamaha motor, donated by Marine Outlet of Temple. This young soldier wailed when they called his name! He said, “tomorrow I fish as a non-boater, but after that I am a boater”, everyone applauded as he took the keys. TRITON Boat Professional, Gary Klein, took the prize winning soldier fishing. They won the tournament with over 14 pounds. taking his photo meant more to me than any I have ever taken. With all the donations from people like you, every soldier received a Fishing For freedom shirt, baits, caps and gifts of all sorts for their participation. All photos of them with their partner were given as well. There was a drawing at the end of the tournament that gave everything from rods to wheel covers. The photos will be put of FishingForFreedom.org by hopefully early next week.
Thank you for the part you played in this amazing day. I have offered to be the photographer for as long as the tournament is held. What a small part of our freedom I can give. Just a day of fishing for us, is a memory forever for them. What an honor to stand in the presence of America ‘s heroes.
Sherran Strong Bard
I won the fishing trip Friday night a lady took my info she said that I would get it a the tournament, but I guess she forgot even though I stayed until the end, I did not think about it until I got home. Also I wanted to take the time to say thanks that I really appreciate the time and effort that you all put into this event. This was my first time in a fishing tournament even though I did not catch anything it was still an AWESOME experience.
Thank You again.
CARLOS E. MOHEAD SR.
Cliff and Rick,
Thank you for the opportunity to do my little part in “Fishin’ for Freedom” this last weekend. Even though I had not been on Lake Belton before, and wasn’t able to put my soldier, SSG Carlos Mohead, on a boatload of fish, the experience was well worth the little investment I made to participate. I hope he got as much enjoyment out of being on the water as I did!! One more fish and we might have been in the money!!! I’m ready to do it again next year. The pictures and videos were great. I only hope I look as good as you guys do when I get that old!
I really appreciate all the work you and your people, along with all the sponsors, put into making this a very successful and exciting time for both us boaters and the soldiers who were able to participate. If it keeps growing, you might have to find a bigger lake!!
By the way, Rick, my prop shaft isn’t bent, just a bunch of sand between the housing and the prop!!! Popit valve’s cleaned out and I’m ready to go again!
SSgt, USAF, 1967-1972
I just wanted to express my thanks & appreciation for all the efforts you & all the other volunteers put into this event. I have been a Reservist anesthesiologist @ CRDAMC for the past 30 days on 90 day orders. I have gotten to know some of the “Wounded Warrior” &. others in the Warrior Transition Units. Some of their stories are truly heart-rending. The sacrifices made by many of our troops are incalculable. That there are people out in the public willing to make a concrete show of their appreciation for the troops’ service is noticed, welcome, and VERY much appreciated. I just wanted to add my one voice to make sure YOU know how very much Fishin’ for Freedom is appreciated.
Thank you again!
Knox Kerr, MD
COL, USAR MC