Six Purple Heart recipients met with many Ohio Freemasons and others for two days of fishing on Lake Erie. The three great tenets of a Mason are brotherly love, relief, and truth; but we know that not all live by our tenets. That is why we rely on our military and first responders to protect and defend us.
This year, we were contacted by WB Virgil D. Tent, Past Master of Clifton Gaston Allen Lodge #664 in the 22nd Masonic District who brought before the Grand Lodge of Ohio Charitable Foundation a cause which fit perfectly with the ideals of the Grand Lodge Veterans & First Responders Fund.
Each spring, a Wounded Warriors in Action Ohio Freemasons Lake Erie Walleye Fishing (OFMLEWF) event takes place in Huron, Ohio. It’s a weekend of walleye fishing on Lake Erie, known to be the Walleye Capital of the World. This event is in partnership with the Wounded Warriors in Action Foundation (WWIA), who connects Purple Heart veterans from all over the United States and all branches of the military to provide relief from their daily struggles. There were six heroes who participated in this event at no cost to them!
How are WWIA events financed? Each event group is responsible to raise funds to pay for their event experience. This fishing event costs approximately $10,000, not including the boat captains who provide their services, equipment, and boats at no charge. There are also other volunteers who provide services and food at no cost. Even the housing was provided by the generosity of Patti Nuhn, owner of the Wild Waves Hotel in Huron, Ohio. It is with deep emotion and a personal family experience she is compelled to support this endeavor.
Escorted by the Ohio Widows Sons, we arrived on Friday, May 13th, for a dinner at the Vermillion VFW. After dinner, we retired to the camp for social time. On a beautiful Saturday morning, with some occasional light rain, we launched out of Vermillion and cruised to our fishing spot. The charter captains were Mark and Meme Carr of Redneck Outfitters, who is also a Past Master of Hanover Lodge #115; Michael and Dana Daugherty of Reely Livin Sportfishing; and Mathew Leben, a professional fisherman. Teri and I also took our boat and fished right next to them. Following a great day of fishing, we again returned to camp for a superb dinner of walleye and Lake Erie perch. After dinner, we all sat around a campfire on the beach and exchanged stories.
Sunday morning, with beautiful blue skies, we again fished until 2pm. After returning to a dinner sponsored by Blue Lagoon Catering, we gathered to hear the veterans share their stories. Speakers were called upon and recognitions were made. Each veteran took home many pounds of fish and plenty of memories.
Hearing the experiences from the veterans made us further realize that we live in a country where their sacrifices were made of love of God and country. Their wounds were of the flesh and mind, and difficult to discuss. But, when you thank them, they thank you back and say it was “their honor”. What a humbling experience. Of the six Purple Heart recipients, one was already a Freemason, and two have since followed up with their respective Grand Lodges of their interest to join our institution. What great Masons they will be!
Last year, Teri and I created and promoted a new fund under the Grand Lodge of Ohio Charitable Foundation to support those who have served and continue to serve us. Thank you to the Masons of Ohio for your donations. In the future, we hope you will continue to support our Grand Lodge Veterans & First Responders Fund.
Thank you to all who have served, and continue to serve, our great country!