LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - On a frigid Sunday morning, 20 wounded warriors baited their hooksa nd took to Wilson Lake for a day of relaxation and recovery.
It's part of Operation HOOAH (Healing Outside Of an Army Hospital), a program being hosted by Southern Fishing for the first time in Alabama.
The wounded soldiers of the 101st Airborne traveled from across the United States to spend the weekend recovering on the water. Each soldier was paired up with a volunteer angler for the weekend fishing trip.
"You go through all this rehab for TBI and PTSD and all this stuff, but this is the most relaxing thing that you can do for therapy if you ask me," said Sergeant Terry Edwards. Edwards served two tours of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, where he received multiple injuries after his truck was hit by an IED.
Edwards has undergone 6 surgeries and awaits an entire knee replacement. While the injuries may differ from soldier to soldier, the experience is the same. Specialist Jeremy Chapin was injured in Iraq in 2005, as he heals he helps organize the events for his fellow wounded soldiers.
"It's great to see the smiles on the soldier's face and for them to get recognition and for the sponsors to bend over backwards for us. They don't realize how much this helps," said Chapin.
For the men of the 101st Airborne, it doesn't matter if they catch a 5 foot Bass, a bait fish, or none at all. All it takes is a morning spent fishing on a lake to bring camaraderie and healing.
Organizers hope to continue to serve the injured soldiers, by making the fishing trip an annual event.