Marine veteran Nick Kefalides hosted a third fishing trip to the Bahamas for servicemen on behalf of Freedom Alliance.
For this most recent trip, Nick partnered with Joe Basile, an expert in offshore fishing, especially in the Bahamas. With his 41-foot center-console fishing boat, Joe has won tournaments, achieved big-name sponsors, and even stars in his own fishing show!
“Joe is a red-blooded American, who is a true patriot and supporter of our nation’s heroes,” said Nick, and Joe didn’t hesitate to help with Nick’s cause, offering his boat and services.
We invited two Soldiers and one Marine for a couple days of fishing on Joe’s boat, Loose Cannon, in an exotic and beguiling part of the world.
We rented a house on Green Turtle Cay, one of the Abaco Out Islands of the Bahamas. The owner of the house is a veteran of the Vietnam War, and he let Nick and the gang use his golf carts for getting around on the small island.
Our veterans—Justin, Josh, and Chuck—along with Nick and Joe, made a splendid crew.
Justin was an interrogator for the Army and was deployed on combat and peacekeeping missions to a number of countries during his years in service.
A corporal in the Army, Josh was injured during his second deployment to Afghanistan. A violent explosion resulted in the loss of his right hand, and he is medically retired after five years of service.
Chuck enlisted with the Marines three months before September 11, 2001. His first deployment was to Kuwait, but he was also in Iraq nearly a decade later. That was when he was injured by shrapnel from an RPG, for which he has been awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received by enemy action.
At the time of trip, Chuck was in a Marine Corps reserve unit, out of Fort Worth, Texas.
For these fishing charters, Nick is always on the prowl for support from local businesses.
One such business is Tuppen’s Marine and Tackle, a well established South Florida boat shop and champion of the military. Steve Sprague is the owner, and he donated three pairs of Salt Life polarized sunglasses, valued at $180 a pair.
Another sponsor was Klutch Clothing Company, a favorite in the boating and fishing community on the Florida coast. With only two weeks’ notice, owner Mike Riseley and his team created custom performance fishing shirts that featured Freedom Alliance and the name of Joe’s boat, Loose Cannon—two for each veteran.
With these abundant and useful donations, the men were set for the time of their lives.
“Being on the water has always been a refuge for me, so getting the chance to get away and go on an amazing trip like that was heaven-sent,” said Chuck.
“One evening on the boat, we were just cruising home, listening to music, with nothing in sight but water and the sunset.”
Chuck told Joe that he hadn’t felt such peace in a very long time.
He said that everyone involved in making this trip possible downplayed their role, but he insisted we acknowledge the value. “Many people talk the talk,” he said, “buy the yellow ribbon bumper sticker, and shake a couple hands…
“Ya’ll put into action what others can barely put into word.”
We’ve since heard from Chuck that he is back to active-duty and getting ready to deploy.
It is our hope that, no matter where he is in the world, he can evoke that peace he felt on the boat and remember that there are people out there who care for our military service members—who care for him.
Safe travels, Chuck, and may God bless all our troops and veterans.