The 20-year anniversary of the tragic events that occurred in New York City, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C. brought a much-needed reminder that patriotism is still alive and well. Local nonprofit, Platte Rivers Veterans Fly Fishing (PRVFF), has supported vets since 2011 by hosting an annual Honor Float for twenty of our nation’s veterans to experience the socialization and camaraderie that comes with fly fishing.
“The patriotism on the Honor Float is palpable,” says Ken McCoy, Poudre Valley REA Information Technology & Business Process Director and Platte Rivers Veterans Fly Fishing Board Vice President. “From the minute we load up our trucks, though the many miles we travel, in all the fish that are landed, and to the final goodbyes, you feel a deep sense of camaraderie. Not only are we giving these veterans an opportunity to heal, we’re also giving them a part of ourselves. Every single one of them
deserves at least that.”
Twenty post-9/11 combat veterans were honored with an all-expenses-paid three-night, two-day guided fishing trip on the San Juan River hosted by PRVFF and sponsored by Poudre Valley REA (PVREA). The motorcade of vets, guides, and staff left PVREA headquarters Friday, September 10, to a cheering crowd, led by the Weld County Sheriff’s Office, and under a flag flown by Windsor Severance Fire Rescue.
The Honor Float was modeled after the Honor Flight, which transports American’s veterans to Washington D.C. to visit the memorials dedicated to honoring those who have served and sacrificed for our country. The Honor Float aims to take past and present soldiers on a journey of physical and mental healing, social integration, and family reunification through the sport of fly fishing.
Their moto: The Water Holds No Scars.
“Words can’t express the gratitude I felt during the trip. Everything Platter Rivers did and planned was overwhelming,” said Vietnam Veteran and 2019 Honor Float participant Fred Ramaker. Asked about his favorite memory of that trip, with a grin Ramaker replied, “Fighting that huge rainbow. Other than that, I seem to have increased my circle of fishing friends by twenty-five.”
Past participant and Purple Heart recipient Clyde Brewer reminisced, “As veterans, we just didn’t expect that kind of VIP treatment. It felt really good being recognized now for our efforts from back then. To be with veterans that experienced the same displeasure that I did, it’s easier to have a conversation because they understand.”
The Honor Float is the marquee trip for Platte Rivers Veterans Fly Fishing, although several day trips and overnight trips occur throughout the season. In the office veterans learn about bug entomology, fly tying techniques, how to build fly fishing rods, casting basics, and other skills they can use in pursuit of their underwater quarry.
As McCoy says, "It's not about the fishing, it's because of the fishing."
If you would like more information about the Platte River Veterans Fly Fishing, how to recognize our veterans, or if you would like to donate, please visit them online at www.platterivers.com.