BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Wednesday was no ordinary Veterans Day for 18 active duty airmen from Keesler Air Force Base who work in cyber security.
Instead of tracking down enemies, they all got the day off to enjoy some time on the water, tracking down fish.
Just after sunrise, airmen gathered at the docks in Bay. St. Louis and climbed aboard the boats. A prayer for a bountiful catch was offered up by one of the six charter boat captains who arranged the free trip.
WLOX News sped to the prime fishing spot by the bridge where apparently, the prayer was answered. Aside from the catch of the day, the airmen also reeled in something else — sense of gratitude.
"It's nice to know that people care and appreciate what we do, because I volunteered for this. There's no draft anymore. It's something I wanted to do. I volunteered to do it and I've reenlisted a couple of times now," Tech Sgt. Clinton Phifer explained.
It was a feeling shared by all, including Staff Sgt. Donnie Langley.
"Something like this, it means a lot to us. It shows that people care and really enjoy showing us how much they care when they take us out and do things like this," Langley said.
For the six charter boat captains who took the 18 active duty Keesler servicemen out on the fishing trip, the decision to do so was an easy one.
"They told Captain Darien that they were going to be deployed later this year and we knew we were going to do our soldiers trip in November for Veterans Day, and we figured why not send these boys off right and show them a good day on the water before they have to head out overseas," Captain Sonny Schindler explained.
"It means a lot. I appreciate it and it's something to look back on while you're deployed, for sure," said Sgt. Chris Mahoney.
And they say the day on the water felt just as right.
"My father served, my grandfather served and it's just something that I grew up with and it feels like the right thing to do," Mahoney added.
After getting back on dry land, the Keesler airmen were treated to lunch at the Blind Tiger Restaurant in Bay St. Louis.