More than 40 veterans representing the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 46, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 789, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6602, and American Legion Post 168 on Friday took soldiers from Fort Stewart’s Wounded Warriors Battalion fishing at Pineview Lake.
Pam Viscarra, the DAV’s adjutant, said she and other members of her chapter were there to support the troops. She said she helped along the shore, while the chapter’s senior vice commander Donald Spencer shared a boat with a WTB soldier who was fishing for the first time.
“Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves,” Viscarra said. “It was wet and muddy along the shore, thanks to all the rain, but along the shore, thanks to all the rain. But you know what, it didn’t matter to anybody.”
Viscarra said that when she arrived a little after the 9 a.m. start time vets and soldiers already were paired up in boats. Some of the WTB soldiers used walking canes, but she said none were using wheelchairs. She said most of the soldiers appeared to be as young as her 23-year-old son, who also is in the military.
Viscarra, and WTB fishermen Sgt. Anthony Torres and Sgt. 1st Class Steve Mollnhauer, said as many as 20 WTB soldiers participated. Viscarra said it seemed there were two vets to every WTB soldier. She said one female WTB soldier was so grateful, she went around during the cookout to thank each veteran. While most of the meal was provided by veterans’ organizations, Viscarra noted that Hinesville’s Firehouse Subs donated sandwiches and chips.
Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Adna Chaffee, VVA, said fishing licenses were waived. He said many of the veterans provided not only boats but fishing rods, tackle and lawn chairs. They also shared war stories with the younger soldiers.
Torres, 29, said he caught two bass, though he had to release them. He said he’s facing military retirement for injuries from a bomb explosion that killed his colleagues. Then the Brooklyn, N.Y., native said he loves to fish.
Mollnhauer, 42, said he loves fishing, too, but this was his first time doing so in four years.
“I caught my first bass on, like, my fourth cast out,” the cavalry scout with 19 years service said. “I almost caught another one. I’m not sure if it was a bass or how big it was. I was hoping to do better the next day with my family at Holbrook Pond, but we didn’t catch a thing.”
Regardless the catch, both men said they appreciated the opportunity.
“You have to feel very grateful to the older veterans there,” Mollnhauer said. “It’s a brotherhood. They really wanted to help you.”
Both men said they and other WTB soldiers received information from the veterans regarding memberships. Torres said he already is a member of the VFW and the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Puerto Rican chapter. Mollnhauer said he has not yet joined an organization except for the Wounded Warrior Project.