By Spider Rybaak
|Disabled Warriors Fly Fishing|
Oswego is one of the most patriotic counties in New York. Last weekend’s tribute to our Nation’s disabled warriors proves it.
The main event was a fly fishing outing on the Salmon River sponsored by Project Healing Waters Inc. (www.projecthealingwaters.org). Started 10 years ago at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, MD, the group’s mission is “dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans through fly fishing and associated activities including education and outings.”
As in the past, the outing was held in the restricted section of the Salmon River behind the hatchery in Altmar. Eighteen veterans and active duty personnel registered in sanctioned rehabilitation programs participated.
Fran Verdoliva, the state’s special assistant for the Salmon River, and coordinator of the event said: “We had a lot of guys with prosthetic devices, including artificial legs, and most of them still waded out into the river. Three drift boats were available for those with mobility problems.”
And the fish were there. Every participant caught at least one, and many caught multiples.
John Patterson, a disabled Navy veteran of the Vietnam War, caught 8.
“While some veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan participated, this year is the first in which Vietnam War veterans made up the majority,” claimed Verdoliva. “They came from as far away as Binghamton and Rochester.”
Marine Corp veteran and motel owner Stan Oulette conducted a private veterans hunting event at his Deer Creek Motel and Pheasant Shooting Preserve (315-298-3730) on NY 3, a couple miles north of Port Ontario.
Stan has been inviting disabled veterans for free hunts on his property for years. He’s been able to accommodate amputees with an Action Trackchair generously donated to him by Paragon Medical’s Tobias Buck for use in his program.
Stan offers free hunts, complete with free lodging, to any veteran with a 30% or higher disability.
Besides pheasant hunts over trained dogs, Stan offers wild goose and deer hunting as well.
|Daniel Morgan, a Project Healing Waters volunteer, holds a steelie caught by|
First Sergeant Ira Strouse (not pictured) while Jim Kelso, a Vietnam Veteran, looks on.
|Autumn Scene on the Salmon River|