Nick Kefalides is an ambassador for Freedom Alliance. Having once participated in a Freedom Alliance event as a combat veteran and special guest, Nick decided then that he wanted to volunteer with us to organize and host other events for his fellow veterans.
This retired MARSOC (Marine Corps Special Operations Command) operator and Florida native is an offshore fishing enthusiast, and he stokes his passion by sharing it with other service members. Having hosted several Freedom Alliance fishing trips in the Bahamas and Florida Keys, Nick chose the Abaco Islands for this summer’s first expedition.
Last month, Nick welcomed Marine sniper Shelby and Army sergeant Jason to Jupiter, Florida, where they met the boat that would take them to the Bahamas.
On the first of Nick’s fishing trips last year, Brian Blas and his father, Tom, happened upon the Freedom Alliance team and offered to help. Ever since, they have donated the use of their boats for Nick and his guests, and it was their boat that conducted this recent crew to their Bahamian destination.
It was a tranquil four-hour ride from Brian’s dock to the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas. Brian and Tim, another veteran friend of Nick’s, spent the journey getting to know Jason and Shelby, and, by the time of arrival, everyone was fast friends.
When they first glimpsed their waterfront home-away-from-home, the men couldn’t believe their good fortune. The private house, nestled on the beach, overlooking the crystal-clear, aquamarine ocean, was everything they needed and more, and it came with two golf carts for exploring their new surroundings: Green Turtle Cay.
For the duration of their stay, Nick, Jason, Shelby, Brian, and Tim took advantage of the local lifestyle, enjoying the restaurants, beaches, and people of the quaint island—not to mention the water.
The next few days consisted of fishing and diving. They trawled in the mornings, catching tuna, and later fished for snapper and grouper. Going underwater with snorkel gear and spears, the men encountered all kinds of ocean life and enchanting, colorful reefs.
The servicemen remarked on how peaceful it was below the surface of the water. “It’s like I’ve been teleported to a totally different world,” Jason said.
The men also had the unique experience of cooking and eating their catch from that day.
After fishing one afternoon, the fellows visited Pig Island, renowned for its swimming pigs. They lingered inland that evening, enjoying drinks and music, and meeting other Americans, who expressed appreciation for their military service.
“Our four-day stay in Green Turtle Cay,” said Nick, “provided some much-needed guy time and R & R for some true heroes that deserve it.”
Jason, who now serves as a police officer in South Florida, said, “This trip was a dream come true and something I will not soon forget. What you are doing for our veterans is amazing and changing their lives. You are bringing them camaraderie and fellowship that they may be missing in civilian life.”
The veterans who fish with Nick applaud our ambassador’s efforts; he is an exemplary host and a genuine friend to all who go with him. And Nick seems to get just as much out of it:
“I want to express my gratitude,” he said, “for allowing me the opportunity to volunteer with such an awesome organization that is doing amazing things to help our nation’s veterans…
“I am honored and humbled to be in a position to facilitate a trip for such great guys, and I look forward to the next.”
There is a well-known fishing proverb: Many go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after. Well, Nick and the volunteers know what they’re after, and we think they’re getting it too.