Fishing trip for vets a way to give back for charter boat owner

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley
  • 177th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Five combat veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan were invited to go on the fishing trip of a lifetime by a NJ charter fishing outfit July 3.

Deane Lambros, captain of the Canyon Runner, said the owner of the charter business, Adam LaRosa, arranged the trip, which included two New Jersey National Guardsmen and three retired active duty veterans," a way of thanking the service members who have sacrificed so much."

This type of trip out to the edge of the continental shelf can be challenging. On this particular morning the 48-foot ship took on four to six foot swells for the two-hour ride.

Greg Rybak, mate and second captain and whose father was in the Army, set up the spread of fourteen hooked rods with various baits, spreader bars, lures and dredges, all designed to entice the tuna to the surface. Some of the lines ran up to the outriggers, aluminum poles leaning out away from the boat, which helps keep all of the lines separated and keeps them from tangling.

"It's hard for a guy like me to comprehend what you guys have had to go through while deployed," said Rybak. "Too many people take it for granted and that's why we take veterans on these trips. We sure do appreciate you guys."

After the first fish was caught, another was reeled in by Tech. Sgt. Keith Williams, a weapons systems specialist with the 177th Fighter Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard. "I really appreciated the crew and they did an excellent job of trying to put us on the fish all day long," said Williams.

U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Patrick Fry, flight operations Soldier with the 57th Troop Command, New Jersey Army National Guard, caught a third mahi-mahi before the crew called it a day and pulled the lines for the three hour cruise back to the dock." I wasn't feeling well enough to go into the cabin on the trip back so the crew took care of me, giving me rain gear to wear and keeping me hydrated," said Fry. "Safety was a priority and they treated us like gold."

Though no tuna were seen or caught, a finback whale, a whale shark and numerous dolphins were seen. More importantly, birds flying near the boat, 90 miles from land, were seen as a good sign that there are bait fish in the water.

As the crew readied the ship for the next trip, Rybak reflected and left these parting words: "All of you have sacrificed so much; we'll never be able to repay you."