Veterans get warm, home town welcome for walleye adventure

Jun 14, 2023 | Featured, Around Ottawa County | 0 comments

The Grateful Valor Girls of the Quilts of Valor Foundation presented hand-made quilts to 10 military veterans at the Walleyes for Wounded Heroes banquet on Saturday at Port Clinton High School. Quilt recipients were, from left to right, Gary Dykstra, Aaron Madosky, William Jackson, Richard Wilson, Daniel Wright, Donald Horton, Duane Merchant, Jeffrey Combs, William Scott and Peter Gerovac. (Photo by Kathy Joe Schweitzer)

BY D’ARCY PATRICK EGAN

What had been planned as as wonderful weekend of walleye fishing on Lake Erie evolved into an extravaganza for the Walleyes for Wounded Heroes (WWH). All of the components were spot on for WWH President Ferd Lohman, as his crew and a wealth of local volunteers made the event a rousing success.

“It was a great weekend for the 72 men and women who attended, and we’re so grateful to the local folks who helped bring this event together,” said Lohman. “The walleye were really biting, the weather was beautiful, the fishing guides were terrific and all of the special welcomes were heart-warming for the military veterans and first responders.”

This was the 11th year of Lake Erie fishing fun

offered by the WWH, which organizes walleye fishing trips in June and during the fall, said Lohman, a Marine veteran.

Presenting hand-made Quilts of Valor to 10 of the participants at the Walleyes for Wounded Heroes fishing tournament during the awards banquet at Port Clinton High School were the local Grateful Valor Girls. From left to right are Sue Bialorucki, Mary Gill, Carla Zika, Jill Bothe and Mary Girosky. (Photo by Kathy Jo Schweitzer)

“The folks at Little Ted’s Cottages and Family Resort in Marblehead made the weekend affordable, and were the perfect hosts,” said Lehman. “It’s a wonderful place for veterans to kick back after a day on Lake Erie, and share their military stories and fishing tales.”

There were plenty of fishing tales, thanks to 32 local Lake Erie fishing guides and a walleye fishery that is unmatched anywhere in the world. The veterans and police first responders in attendance weighed in 4,419 pounds of walleye, including a trophy 8.92-pounder. The anglers included a Gold Star Family, Sherry and Tray Coker of Montana.

That wasn’t all that was hooked and landed last weekend. The Ohio Division of Wildlife invited 20 of the anglers to visit the Castalia State Fish Hatchery in Castalia, Ohio to go fly fishing on the productive waters of Cold Creek. The rainbow trout swimming there, said Lohman, were very cooperative.

A parade of local fire trucks and law enforcement vehicles were ready to ferry the fishermen in a parade from Marblehead to Port Clinton High School for the Saturday evening banquet, but the busy weekend traffic caused the one glitch of the weekend —an unexpected vehicle fire required the firemen’s full attention.

Skydiver Kevin Dubas, a U.S. Marine veteran from Dayton, Ohio and Team Fastrax, honored the Walleyes for Wounded Heroes participants by arriving for their special awards banquet on Saturday at Port Clinton High School via a 4,000-foot descent while streaming a huge American flag. (Photo by D’Arcy Patrick Egan)

Everyone made it to their banquet on time under clear skies, though, eager to watch Skydiver Kevin Dubas perform. The U.S. Marine veteran from Dayton, Ohio and Team Fastrax exited an airplane at 4,000 feet above the ground while he was hooked to a huge American flag, and expertly negotiated his way to a perfect touchdown on the Port Clinton High School baseball diamond.

It was a positive performance and preface to Dubas singing the National Anthem at the WWH banquet. After the meal, the local Grateful Valor Girls of the Quilts of Valor Foundation, members of a national group of more than 10,000 quilters, honored 10 veterans with their hand-made quilts.

“We were honored to have made and presented the Quilts of Valor to such brave veterans,” said Jill Bothe of the Grateful Valor Girls. “Our mission is to cover service members and veterans touched by war with the comforting and healing Quilts of Valor.”

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