Organizations => South Shore Fishing Association => Topic started by: MAK on September 14, 2015, 08:48:32 PM

Title: 2015 SSFA Veterans Appreciation Fishing Day
Post by: MAK on September 14, 2015, 08:48:32 PM
SSFA held its 2nd Annual - Veterans Appreciation Fishing Day yesterday and I know I can speak for everyone that was involved in the event by saying “WOW” what an awesome day and what an awesome community and country we live in.  We ended up with about 40 boats and 70 Vets for this year’s event.  Morning registration was headed up by Kathy Herrala and took place at Presque Isle this year.  From what I’m told the registration process went very smoothly and all Vets were quickly registered and on their way.  My wife April Koski, assisted the Vets with getting on to one of the three MarqTran busses bound for one of the three launching areas (Upper Harbor, Lower Harbor, and Fish Dock/Association Dock) where Captains and First Mates waited with Red Cross volunteers and Derek VanBuren and other National Guardsmen to greet the Vets and escort them to their boats. 

Boats were on the water and fishing by 8 am.  The water was a bit rougher than predicted but not completely unexpected, this is Lake Superior after all.  As the sun rose above the horizon and we started to heat up from the morning’s chill so did the fishing.  With my dad at the helm and me setting rods it seemed like only minutes before each of the two vets on my boat landed a nice lean lake trout and the cheering began.  We turned the boat back around and boated two more from the same area.  After a short lull in the action I realized I hadn’t raised the flags I brought with me.  It wasn’t but a minute after putting the first flag up that we had our next fish.  Being the somewhat superstitious fisherman that I am, up went the second flag and sure enough another rod fired.  It was a beauty and our biggest fish of the day, which is how we gave one of our Vets the nickname, “Big Fish Jim” Feliciano.  What was I to do next, I was out of flags and we needed to catch more fish. The answer came a few minutes later when our other Vet, Sam Fry, poured himself a quick cup of coffee – yep, fish on!  It was a good thing Sam had plenty of coffee because the same thing happened on his next cup of coffee.  With our spirits high, a limit of lakers in the box, and seeing a smile on everyone’s face, I realized we each had just made some new friends.  Looking at the clock I realized how fast the morning had flown by and that it was time to head back to port for the boat parade.

As we neared the lower harbor lighthouse I could see a dozen or more boats lined up for the parade.  The only thing missing was the USCG rescue boat that was to lead us in the parade.  I didn’t have to wonder why they weren’t there for very long as we were informed by the Marquette County Sheriff’s Department rescue boat that the USCG boat was on a response call to Munising – it seemed like a fitting reminder that the very service men and women we were there to honor are always working, for us.  As the boats were lead into the harbor by the Sheriff’s boat we could hear the loudspeakers that Vets Committee member Andy Allen set up while we were out fishing, playing one of the service songs and we got our first up close glimpse of the crowd that had gathered along wall to greet the Vets.  It was clear that this year’s crowd was significantly larger than the year prior.  The crowd was waving, holding flags, and wearing the red, white, and blue sunglasses provided by Ross Anthony of Honor Credit Union and handed out by Hannah Crampton from the Elks – patriotic and cool all at the same time!  The vets on my boat, Sam and Jim were holding up a couple of the fish they caught as we passed by the crowd, they were grinning ear to ear and I could hear them point out people they knew on shore.  Seeing the boats in front of us, the boats behind us and the smiles on Sam’s and Jim’s faces, as well as the crowd on shore and hearing the music was an instant shot of pride and emotion, what a great moment, what a great day this was is all I could think about.

The parade ended and the boats returned to their respective ports where the Vets deboarded and were bussed back to Presque Isle for the afternoon ceremony and lunch.  Fish coolers were hauled in a trailer from the Upper Harbor by Wayne Herrala and I transported the coolers from the Lower Harbor over to Thill’s Fish House.  Once the Vets and their families arrived at Presque Isle along with the Captains, First Mates, and Volunteers, Mike Paluda, SSFA Veterans Committee Chairman welcomed everyone to the event and provided everyone with a brochure of the event prepared by Jamie Tomczyk.  Following the welcoming there was a presentation of the colors.  Mr. Bob Blevins, an original member of the Veterans Coalition in Marquette and a 33-year retired veteran of the USMC and past Commander of the Disabled American Veterans, gave a speech that that was spot on and liked by everyone.  The afternoon’s meal was promptly served at the completion of Bob’s speech.  The main course was prepared by Mr. Stacy Aho and consisted of a 300-pound hog that had been cooking on the smoker since the evening before.  Side dishes of salad (provided by Cross Roads Bar and Restaurant) and beans were provided along with refreshments provided by Coca Cola distributers and Econo Foods.  Supplies for the meal were provided by GFS and Walmart.  The afternoon desert, 300 homemade cupcakes, were baked and decorated by my aunt Janet Paquette and mom Cheryl Koski.  The meal was fantastic and I don’t think anyone went home hungry!

While many were enjoying the welcome ceremony and lunch, a relatively big group of people Eric and Lindsie Williams, Errin Devine, Ralph Beauchamp, Mike Myers (his son Marshall Myers), Ben Bernard, Steve Sanderson, Ray Uimari (wife Cathy, daughters Caitlyn and Taylar), Erik Uimari (son Ethan), Eric Burkman, Matt DeBolt, Ryan Stern, and Dan and Melody Thill, were working fast and furiously over at Thill’s Fish House to fillet the fish from the day – thank you Thill’s Fish House for opening your doors and letting us use your facility, equipment, and supplies.  The coolers were stacked in the trailer and promptly delivered to the awaiting captains and vets back at Presque Isle.  The tables and chairs were packed away in the trailer by the Boy Scouts and National Guardsmen and returned to NMU – thank you Greg Stone for helping us again.

It took a lot of time, effort, planning, coordinating, cooperation and patience to put this event together.  I want to thank everyone who was involved in the event: captains, volunteers, sponsors, and everyone in between, but I especially want to thank the Vets, past, present, and future, we cannot thank you enough for what you have done and continue to do for us all.

During one of our Vets Fishing Day committee meetings this summer I was enlightened first hand as to how our service men and women are not often (or ever) acknowledged or appreciated for what they have done for us all.  One of our committee members, a decorated Vietnam Veteran told us of an experience that happened just this summer.  He told us that while walking through the parking lot of Econo Foods and wearing his Vietnam Veteran hat, a woman who he had never met, walked up to him and gave him a great big hug.  Somewhat startled he asked her what that was for and she told him, “for serving our country”.  He went on to tell us that was the very first time since he left the Vietnam War that anyone like that has thanked him for his service.  I don’t know the things that this man did in Vietnam or the things he had to go through, or what any one of the other Veterans did there, but I do know when this country asked them go there or to any other place in this world to lay their lives on the line, they went, and they served, and some gave everything for us.  Every person in America owes our Vets a debt of gratitude for their service and for providing us with the freedoms to be able to take part in events like this.  To all of our Vets, if no one has ever told you before, please know that it was our privilege to be a part of this event with all of you and thank you for your service to all of us. 

The next time you see a Vet, thank them for their service and thank them for what they have done for you and for us all, it might just be the first time they’ve ever been told that.

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Title: Re: 2015 SSFA Veterans Appreciation Fishing Day
Post by: SnIpEr on September 15, 2015, 06:54:31 AM
Awesome job by everyone involved. Everything went great and there sure was a lot of smiling faces. This was my favorite event last year and was again this year. Looking forward to next year.
Title: Re: 2015 SSFA Veterans Appreciation Fishing Day
Post by: andya12420 on September 15, 2015, 08:55:18 AM
Very nice write up Mylan, Makes me feel as I was on your boat!  Another big THANK YOU goes out to our President, commander and chief Mylan Koski.  He puts in countless hours of work at meetings and behind the scenes to make this all happen. Right down to dropping the tables and chairs off Monday evening after the event and work, when nobody wants anything to do with it!
Tell him thanks the next time you see him!  :beer: :beer:
Title: Re: 2015 SSFA Veterans Appreciation Fishing Day
Post by: TOPSECRET1 on September 15, 2015, 03:56:56 PM
A great day to honor our Veterans. Wonderful ceremony, meal, and community support! Looking forward to #3 next year.
Tom Florek
Title: Re: 2015 SSFA Veterans Appreciation Fishing Day
Post by: TOPSECRET1 on September 15, 2015, 04:00:25 PM
Additional pics.
Title: Re: 2015 SSFA Veterans Appreciation Fishing Day
Post by: Fish-ti-cuffs on September 15, 2015, 04:18:52 PM
Awesome job, looks like everything went great.
Title: Re: 2015 SSFA Veterans Appreciation Fishing Day
Post by: Tin Lizzy on September 15, 2015, 10:04:27 PM
Kudos to the SSFA, you guys sure know how to do it right over there!  Well done!
Title: Re: 2015 SSFA Veterans Appreciation Fishing Day
Post by: vmthtr in green bay on September 16, 2015, 07:06:54 AM
Great job
Title: Re: 2015 SSFA Veterans Appreciation Fishing Day
Post by: B.REEL on September 16, 2015, 08:42:03 PM
Was an honor to be part of such a great event. The hero I had on my boat told me how he was so touched as we came by the wall. What a great feeling that was for me. Thanks SSFA for an unforgettable experience.
Title: Re: 2015 SSFA Veterans Appreciation Fishing Day
Post by: Yooperdad on September 17, 2015, 07:17:38 PM
Great report Mylan on a great event.  A good job and a good time was had by all.

Photos  :usa:  I need photos from the event to construct a video of the event similar to the one from last year.  Several individuals have sent me pictures of the boats in the parade so we are in good shape for those.  But pictures taken on boats, of fish, smiling faces, action photos, etc. are in short supply, as are smiling faces at the pig roast.  I can copy photos that you post here on UPA, but they end up being of rather poor quality saved in that fashion.  Much better would be to send them directly to me at either mpaluda@chartermi.net or yooperdad@gmail.com so I can include them in the 2015 video.

Thanks again to all boat Captains for making this event such a huge success.


Last years video:

Title: 2015 SSFA Veterans Appreciation Fishing Day
Post by: Yooperdad on December 28, 2015, 08:17:18 PM
Uploaded the 2015 Veterans Fishing Day video to YouTube today.  Thanks to all the boat captains, crew members, and all the committee members and volunteers for putting on such a hugely successful event.

Best wishes for 2016.  Mike