OGDENSBURG Wounded soldiers staying at Fort Drum got a chance to fish the St. Lawrence River in the second annual Wounded Warriors Bass Derby.
The soldiers spent a sunny summer day on the water, competing to see which team could bring in the four biggest bass.
Nineteen boats launched from the Dobisky Visitors Center, carrying 34 soldiers out into the river at 7:30 a.m. to begin fishing. The tournament lasted until 3:30 p.m., followed by a dinner and awards ceremony sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
One of our big priorities is to reach out to people in the area, said FISHCAP coordinator Donald R. Meissner, who organized the event.
Community volunteers from Ogdensburg and beyond provided time, money and resources, including boats, to make the tournament happen.
The people in the area came out of the woodwork, Mr. Meissner said.
FISHCAP limited the number of participants to 34, so that each could have plenty of help on the water. This is up from last years 23 veterans. Many of this years participants were new, while others were familiar faces, Mr. Meissner said.
Many of the volunteers were veterans themselves, or had family and friends in the military.
Just about all of them are connected in some way, said Robert J. Giordano, one of the event organizers.
Whether they were catching fish or not, soldiers said they enjoyed the chance to get out on the water.
I love it, said Scott J. Moreau, a staff sergeant from Vermont who served in Iraq. It beats being back there with nothing to do in the barracks.
Fishing provided a good way to get outdoors for those who may not be able to participate in some other activities.
A lot of stuff we cant do, because were hurt, so this is really fun, said Jeremy J. Bowser, an Iraq war veteran from Cortland.
Feedback for the first two Wounded Warriors Derbies has been positive, Mr. Meissner said, and he looks forward to continuing it in the future.
Its hopefully the beginning of an annual thing, he said.