PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) - When soldiers and veterans return home from war or a deployment, some of them may have a hard time finding ways to enjoy their time.
The Wounded Warrior Project took veterans out on the Pascagoula River to catch some red snapper Saturday. It was the first time the Mississippi coast group had a fishing tournament.
Some of the warriors had never been on a boat or done any kind of fishing before Saturday.
“I wasn’t so much nervous about getting on the boat. It was more so like am I going to do right, or am I going to drop the pole in, or am I going to fall in?” said Levert Octetree.
The organizers needed support to do this, and it wasn’t hard for them to find the support they needed. It was almost overwhelming, the response they received.
“The response was really tremendous," said Patrick Harmon, a peer mentor with the Wounded Warrior Project. "We started out with 15 soldiers, and with the tremendous response that we got, we were able to take 29 soldiers out.”
West Marine was one of the tournament’s sponsors. The company is always inclined to support marine-based recreational events, but for some, the Wounded Warrior fishing tournament was an additional reason to lend some gear.
“As soon as I retired and came here I found the Wounded Warriors Project and I definitely jumped on board and helped out where I can,” said Danny Watts said, a West Marine employee and a Marine Corps veteran.
Once the fish were brought back in and weighed, the prizes were handed out. Some included gift certificates to local hotels and restaurants.
Now that they have a support system and word has gotten out, Wounded Warrior representatives said they will do at least three to four more events a year.