A Big Turn Out for the Second Wounded Warrior/Military Appreciation Day at John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center
2/18/2013 10:37 AM
"Okay soldiers listen up! 1300 hours formation on the second Wednesday of the month will be held in the lower parking lot of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center, located at the end of Reilly Road on the west side of Fayetteville. Be there standing tall and ready to have some fun. Civilian clothing optional."
Maybe those weren't the exact words but this is approximately what the First Sergeant of one of Fort Bragg's Warrior Transition Companies announced to his soldiers earlier this week.
And what a difference a little command emphasis makes. We have been doing these Wounded Warrior / Military Appreciation Days for four years. Attendance has been up and down with a lot more down than up. Today's attendance of more than 75 soldiers filled the parking lot and gave us hope that our efforts are not wasted. The Wildlife Resources Commission provides a wonderful venue. Volunteers, many of whom are veterans themselves, provide the oversight and instruction. All fishing gear is provided and a fishing license is not required.
We specialize in fly fishing and also offer fly-tying instruction for those who want to try their hand at that aspect of the sport. Evelyn, a speech pathologist from Womack Army Medical Center who works with Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI), often brings her patients specifically for the fly tying. The hand and eye coordination required of a good fly tyer is a challenge for TBI patients. Evelyn and one of her patients were recently the focus of a story about TBI in an army medical publication: http://www.brainlinemilitary.org/content/2013/01/broken-brains.html
Not everyone is into fly fishing, however. For those folks who aren’t, we have spin cast rods and bait and access to three ponds full of huge catfish. We had a steady drizzle most of the afternoon but that did not dampen the determination of our participants, many of whom had not been fishing in a long, long time.
There was quite a lot of friendly rivalry about whose fish was the largest or who caught the most fish, and by the end of the day some of the folks at the catfish ponds were counting well past twenty.
We have 500 trout in each pond and they are hitting woolly buggers, nymphs and midges fairly well.
Our next Wounded Warrior / Military Appreciation Day is scheduled for March 13 from 1 to 5 p.m. We hope the First Sergeant will call for a formation in our parking lot again next month. Better yet, we challenge the Sergeant Major to hold the battalion formation there. We will hold a "fish off" between companies. As an added incentive, next month we will start pulling the trout out of the ponds so instead of "catch and release" it will be "catch and keep." Fish fry anyone?