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Veterans are Special - Thank You!!

May 23, 2013 - Larry Claypool
Special people around us make us special too. I don’t really know if I’ve heard that somewhere else, or I just made that up. Either way, it’s true. I’ve been doing this job for over 6 1/2 years and I’m always finding special people among the outdoors community. I’m sincere, really special people. I met one such person recently as I helped volunteer at the inaugural Veteran’s Fishing Day, hosted by the Outdoor Writers of Ohio (which I am a member), at the Meander Creek Reservoir near Austintown, OH. The event was also sponsored by the ODNR, Division of Wildlife - District 3 and Mahoning County Sanitary District. See my story and photos on Page 35 of OVO, Summer issue. This event was filled with special people, from the veteran’s (obviously) to the organizers, donors and volunteers. I feel many people will go beyond the norm when trying to help veterans and kids, which should be the case. Hats off to Mike Mainhart of OWO, who spearheaded the veterans event. Several other members of OWO were on hand to assist. And several wildlife officers from the ODNR, Division of Wildlife - District 3 region and other local veterans were there to help. It was a great show of support from everyone involved. I commend the two nursing home facilities, Shepherd of the Valley and Gillette Nursing Home, for their dedication in transporting some of their veterans to the event, including some who were in wheelchairs. One such veteran, Tony (last names are confidential), was assigned to myself and fellow volunteer Dorothy Mainhart. We were using baitcasting reels (donated by Bass Pro Shops) with minnows topped with a bobber. The fishing action was slow for us since Tony was unable to toss the line too far into the reservoir. He told me it didn’t matter if he caught fish though, he was happy to be sitting by the water and fishing. I was happy too then, but still wanted to help him catch fish. I would occasionally cast the line for him to improve his chances. Tony, a World War II veteran, did catch a few fish — bluegill, when we switched to using maggots for bait. After a few hours of fishing with Tony on a beautiful May day, Dorothy and I got to know him a little better. At age 92 (he didn’t look it) he told us about his family, his job and hobbies. I asked a lot of questions, that’s what I do. I guess any 90-year-old would have a lot of hobbies and stories to talk about. By trade Tony said was a bricklayer — for 50 years! I couldn’t imagine that. Those bricks and blocks are heavy. It’s no wonder Tony suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome. Tony said they do a lot of activities at the nursing home. He likes to sing so visits from local groups are high on his list. Residents also travel often to different places and eat out occasionally. Kudos to those at all nursing homes for taking care of our seniors and veterans. Kudos to all veterans who’ve served our country, and is serving our country well to keep us safe. I thanked Tony, and so should you thank any veteran you speak with. They’re all special people.

 
 

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Blog Photos

The author (left) with Tony, a World War II veteran, who participated in the Veteran's Fishing Day at Meander Creek Reservoir recently.