Over the course of a day, these Freedom Alliance-sponsored veterans caught over 600 pounds of yellowfin tuna. . . . but the healing and restoration found on the open seas was worth its weight in gold.
During a sunny week in May 2017, three generous supporters offered us the use of their fishing supplies, houses, and yachts for a trip on the water. This expedition would take place at the Outer Banks in North Carolina, which has been called a “sports fisherman’s paradise”—big game fishermen can expect to find these waters teeming with the likes of billfish and tuna.
Of course, we jumped at the opportunity to host a group of veterans on this trip.
Maggie Provine, sister of Freedom Alliance President Tom Kilgannon, was the first of these donors. She owns an ocean-front beach house, which our veterans used to rest before and after the offshore trip. Bill Pino, owner of Squidnation—a sports fishing supply site—offered to charter a boat for the trip from the famous Oregon Inlet Fishing Center. This boat turned out to be a custom yacht, the “Qualifier,” overseen by the renowned Captain Fin Gaddy. Our friends, Wayne Enroughty and Jimmy Baynes, also offered the use of Jimmy’s yacht, “Sniper.” Both boats happened to be Paul Mann custom yachts—the lap of luxury.
The weather and fishing didn’t disappoint—the American heroes whom we hosted on this trip had the time of their lives. As soon as first mate Colin Oxnard cast his line out, he hooked a mahi and handed the rod for the first vet to reel it in.
Our American heroes took this as a cue. As each tried their hand at casting a line, the large yachts became more and more inundated with mahi and yellowfin tuna. One of the men, Nick—a 9-year veteran of the Marine Corps—took on a new job during the trip. He had to constantly sit on the fish cooler because it wouldn’t close!
Of course, this trip wasn’t all fish and games. For these war veterans, it was an opportunity to rest and recover from the busyness of life. Freedom Alliance knows well the struggles of our veterans after their military career is over—we take every opportunity to organize these sorts of rehabilitative fishing trips for them. They are allowed a reprieve from the daily grind; but more importantly, they get to connect with heroes in a similar walk of life.
Here’s what one of our veterans had to say about the trip: “Freedom Alliance provided me and several other service members the opportunity to go deep sea fishing in the Outer Banks. I cannot express how great of an experience it was. Being able to cut loose and enjoy camaraderie with other vets while fishing on some amazing boats with great people will easily be a highlight of my year.”
It’s only because of your donations, and the support of friends like Maggie, Bill, Wayne, and Jimmy, that Freedom Alliance is able to carry on our mission to support these American heroes. Thank you!