Austin, TX, United States (4E Sports) – For three years now, Soldiers On the Water has been rewarding wounded or recovering soldiers with a day of fishing.
Founded in 2010 by military veterans Kandie Candelaria (U.S. Air Force) and Bob Jett (U.S. Navy), the organization is dedicated to giving back to heroes who have given so much for their country.
“I know what it is like to be away from home,” Candelaria said. “When our country said we need help, they raised their hands and said what do you want me to do? They put their lives on the line.”
Recently, the group hosted its third annual SOTW event Oct. 19 at Lake Bastrop North Shore with 11 soldiers from the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Hood participating. The participants suffer from traumatic injuries from overseas deployment.
Volunteer boat captains from the San Marcos area were paired up with soldiers and then took to the water bright and early for some fishing fun. The soldiers and boat captains returned to the dock at noon with their catch in hand and stories to share.
“When they came off that water, they were all smiles,” Jett said.
Soldier Samuel Mettlen, who was matched up with boat captain George VanRiper, caught three largemouth bass.
“I like fishing, it takes me away from the real world and you have no worries out there except catching your line,” Mettlen said. “I learned a lot from my captain. He taught me how to hook a lure to where it won’t get caught in the reeds.”
John Beene of the Canyon Bass Club was paired with soldier Herbert Tate and the duo said they caught over 20 fish.
“This organization means so much to us,” Tate said in appreciation. “I felt so awesome out there in the water catching fish. You can’t beat it.”
Trophies, handmade by Jett, were awarded to the soldiers in categories such as heavy stringer, biggest fish and the soldier’s personal favorite – smallest fish.
“Soldiers, thank you for allowing us to take you out for a day of fun,” Jett said during the awarding. “It means as much to us as it does to you.”