24 boats and close to 100 Troops fished on Saturday, August 27th and the event was hosted at Wallace’s Bait and Tackle, located in Hampton Virginia. Dozens of family members participated in numerous family activities including boat rides, face painting, balloon art, cotton candy, a dunk tank with volunteers Julie Booth and Hector Reyes getting wet, an ice cream truck, cornhole games, and a SpongeBob Squarepants bounce house!
The day started early for the volunteers with Scott Krieger helping setup the radio equipment at 4:30 am. AJ Cole setup the Troop check in, and Alan Cole Jr, his Wife Betty along with many others were setting up lights, and getting ready for the flurry of activity.
Troops started showing up, boats calling in and we were underway! As dawn approached, we had numerous boats already out fishing and Dawn, Richard and Bret sure all the volunteers were busy and things were in place.
Once all the boats were out fishing, we started to set up family activities and listen for fishing reports. The first report of the day was spanish mackerel and then we started hearing about the cobia!
A quick hot dog/bratwurst lunch was had and then we waited for the families to arrive and they did! The first customer was the bounce house, then boat rides had a backlog, but everyone had a blast!
Then the Troops started showing, the first boat back was the headboat Rudee Whaler and they enjoyed landing various fish species so we fired up the cleaning table……then the cobia started showing up. I believe there were about 8 keepers landed, with the largest being a citation 52 lbs!
We started serving the meal and Chapter President Jack Bartell was thanking all the participants, volunteers, and supporters. Then AJ Cole took over and started doling our door prizes for the Troops. Numerous items from fishing tackle, to gift packs, restaurant cards were given away and the grand prize was a $400 guided duck hunting trip!
The Governor of Virginia declared it officially as Military Appreciation Day also! Each volunteer received a tee shirt courtesy of Calcutta, and a nice thank you certificate.
Then the cleanup began and packing everything away. The volunteers made everything look and feel seamless, and were hard workers. We’re resting for now, but the MAD compass has turned and now we await the Southport NC event happening on September 10th, hosted by Southport Marina.