I had the honor to take out Jason Scarbrough. He was injured in a roadside bombing in Afganistan Oct 2, 2007. He is still in pretty bad shape which I won't go into details b/c of his privacy, But one thing was memory loss from the explosion. Both his memory loss is short and long term which he is slowly and pain stakingly recovering from. Saturday was the first day he was allowed out on his own since his convoy was attacked. The outing Saturday served true to the purpose of the Wounded Warrior project getting soldiers outdoors. This day had a very big impact on his life, moral and recovery. By mid day his meds were wearing off and the pain was intense and he still stood strong and didn't want to go back. Listening to him tell his emotion filled stories the one thing that angers and saddens him most is he is not with his squad still serving. He is a TRUE Warrior and Hero.
The day started with getting to know him and progressed into smiles, laughter and ended with a true friendship. He is a avid Ohio outdoorsman and fisherman (loves flathead fishing and hunting). Today he caught his PB blue of 48lbs. The rod went down I took it from the rod holder he jumped up threw the cane to the floor, forgot his adversity for a moment, grabbed the rod and for 5 minutes fought his fish like a pro. He said now he is hooked on big James river blues. He expressed that "The one thing he never wanted to forget was this day". My wife met his wife over the phone yesterday morning and got the details of his life to make it easier on him to explain his situation. She sent the pic of his fish to her over the phone and with in hours his brothers called and ribbed him because he had beaten their PB blue and flathead cats. He was so excited. He told them he got blowed up and still beat their PB and was grinning from ear to ear. It was great to see his moral increase that much in just a few hours. :grin:
He and his wife will be going with me again as soon as he recovers more. We heard from his wife today that he was still smiling this morning and still remembers the details of Saturday everytime he looks at the pics. I could go on for days about how this event effects your life, but those of you that were there know. We should all be dedicated to our sevicemen as they are to our country and to each of us. We can never repay the debt to them, but we can always support them and their families in may ways like the Wounded Warrior Project. Thanks Jim, Earl and the supporters of the Wounded Warrior Project to make this possible for me and my wife to be involved and do what we could to help the Warriors. A big thanks to Stonewall, REDCAT and Frank also for spending hours catching the bait. A big thanks to Wayne Atkinson (CRASH14me2) for letting me borrow his boat for the event after mine broke.
God Bless America
I talked shortly with Jason before we started and encouraged him that he can do it as I seen the doubt in his eyes. I think once the Capt. and cadre arrived and seen our efforts to keep them as safe and comfortable as possible, they would have really pushed and encouraged others to come out. Two special soldiers that had suffered very severe injuries that was on Eddy Wileys boat, neither had ever been fishing in their life, but ended the day with some big smiles and assurances that catfishermen will be their for them when they return home to SW Ohio. I asked them if they had ever watched the military channel and they confided that they just couldn't view things like that so I told them of one episode where a soldier cautiously approached an IAD when they blew it and it took him off his feet and he took a piece of shratnel to the leg. Although severally wounded he faught his way to his feet, turned towards where the suspected hideout and gave them the "bird"----then explained to them by coming out here today and participated in this event that they gave Osama and his terrorist the "bird",,,,those laughs and smiles was priceless and showed them they have to keep moving forward and we're here to help in their recovery
Thanks Jim for leting me get one of these guy out on the river.MY warriors name was Jason from Wisconsin.He has done some fishing up north but not much.We did get 7 fish in the boat but nothing over 14 lbs,I think he had a great time he was casting a bait caster like a pro by the end of the day.Thanks also for showing me and my daughter around the river.Jerry from Ohio
My boat and I were one of the last to leave that morning waiting on a few straglers to make it to the ramp. A young man by the name of Richard Newton a tender 19yrs old from western VA and I headed out running down to deep bottom.. We had the kind of start that u sometimes wonder if you should have wetted a line. A few good take down and a lost fish half way to boat, she was pulling pretty good. We went to deep bottom and picked up Bruce (redcat) and headed back for some more fun. The nibbles we good and hard but still no hook ups. We move for the third time and the poles started to bend. Finally a nice hook up. Richard got the rod and was fighting this fish real good. If u notice he is not a very big young man. This fish made 2 or 3 good runs and Richard was having a ball. The fish finally surfaced for the first time and we thought he was gonna swallow his chew.. his eyes got so big. We landed the fish and measured for his citation. A new best for Richard... 40lb. The grin from ear to ear was priceless... Its amazing how young he was and to have gone through so much. We all need to thank a veteran and say a pray for our men and women over seas... It made me think while I watched him fish and smile of how lucky we are to have brave men and women to serve our country. Thanks for all you do!!
By ANDY THOMPSON
Early last Saturday, a group of fishermen gathered at the Hopewell marina to do what they do almost every weekend: search for monster blue catfish.
But this outing was different. Big cat anglers such as Earl Phillips wouldn't wet a single line for themselves.
Phillips and a host of other local cat fishermen were there to offer the experience of hauling in a 50-pound beast, or cruising the James River near Presquile National Wildlife Refuge or just generally talking fishing to a group of wounded veterans who might not otherwise get such opportunities.
Take Jason Scarborough, a member of the Kentucky National Guard. He was badly injured in Afghanistan when the vehicle he was riding in was hit by an improvised explosive device. He suffered severe whiplash. He now has memory loss and walks with the aid of a crutch.
"It shocked me," he said, of hearing about the trip. "I never heard of fishing in November."
Scarborough caught one of the bigger specimens on the day -- a 48-pound blue cat south of Jordan Point. But for him, the highlight was getting out of McGuire VA hospital and "meeting people who are willing to spend time with wounded soldiers."
Statements like that are music to Phillips' ears.
"The number one [goal] is getting the guys out on the water, fishing, saying 'Hey, you can still do this. The only limitation you have is in your mind.'" he said. "The other thing we're trying to do is build the friendships. If two guys stay close that fished today, then we've accomplished what we want. The third thing we're trying to do is show them our appreciation."
Phillips and Jim Pauley own Master Catters, an online forum for cat-fishermen and a clearinghouse for related subjects. They started putting the event together at the suggestion of an online member. As soon as they broached the subject on their Web site,, they had numerous offers of help from other fishermen.
"We have more boats here than veterans," Bruce Conner said before shoving off Saturday morning. Conner was one of many who put in countless hours to make the day a memorable one for the injured servicemen. He spent all day Friday fishing for the shad that was used as bait.
It was bitter cold Saturday morning, especially on the water, but that didn't seem to dampen the spirits of the veterans or the catfishermen chauffeuring them around. They fished all day, then came back to the marina for a barbecue dinner.
Phillips said this year's event came together at the last minute. He already is working on next year's and how to expand it. In addition to including more veterans -- this year there were about two dozen from places such as McGuire VA Medical Center, Fort Lee and Fort Eustis -- Phillips said there's talk of Hopewell holding a wounded veterans parade to coincide with the event. He also wants to do it in October, when it's warmer and won't interfere with hunting season.
Captain David Payne blew out one of his knees during a live-fire exercise at Fort Riley Kansas a little more than a year ago. He was scheduled to leave for Iraq three weeks before the injury. Now, he works at Fort Lee with the base's transition unit, caring for wounded warriors who are transitioning either within the Army or moving on to a job in the civilian world.
He sees the impact events such as these can have in the lives of wounded veterans.
"I think it's fantastic, because it shows soldiers that it's more than just lip service," said Payne, 40. "Sometimes, soldiers will talk about seeing bumper stickers, 'Support the Troops.' Sometimes, you see that when a person is cutting you off in traffic. You wonder how much they support the troops.
"What these people did on Saturday was really commendable."
As more soldiers come back from Iraq and Afghanistan with mental and physical barriers to returning to normal civilian lives, events like these are proliferating. In Richmond, for instance, the Fly Fishers of Virginia have volunteered their time at McGuire, teaching wounded servicemen and women the nuances of fly-tying and fly-casting, as well as taking them fishing.
Platoon Sergeant Steven Moore, who works with Payne at Fort Lee, summed up the importance of these events.
"A couple of the guys I talked to said it actually kind of helps them to get themselves back into the normal stream of society in the United States," he said. "We've just got to get them back out there so they feel comfortable again."