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9-27-18

Hooked On Heroes

Camaraderie on the Gulf
Vets fishing with vets


Veterans from their early 20’s to 96 years of age enjoyed the day out on the water at Steinhatchee with Hooked On Heroes. This veteran caught a Spanish Mackerel.


Veterans caught all different types of fish. Johnny is holding a Redfish that he caught.
-Photos: Submitted



By Tami Stevenson


Earlier this month, Hooked on Heroes was able to take 132 veterans ranging in age from their early 20’s all the way to two WWII Veterans ages 95 and 96, out fishing for the day in 63 boats on the Gulf in Steinhatchee. Although a little windy and hot, everyone was excited there were no storms or other circumstances that would cause them to cancel and the day went off without a hitch.


The day began around 8:30 a.m. as they met at Sea Hag Marina in Steinhatchee where they enjoyed coffee and some 40 dozen donuts from Johnson’s Bakery in Perry, donated by Ivan Rowell. They say their donuts are the best and if you’re ever in Perry to be sure and stop by their bakery.


The Veteran’s come from all over the surrounding area and as far away as Georgia, Tampa, St. Petersburg and Port St. Lucy. One volunteer boat owner/captain towed his boat all the way from Tampa just to take veterans out and said he had no idea he would have such a great time and can’t wait to come again. They all enjoy listening and sharing their stories; the camaraderie is priceless. Not to mention the fun of catching Spanish Mackerel, Gag Grouper and Redfish, just to name a few.


Hooked on Heroes, a non-profit organization, that was created four years ago by a Vietnam Veteran that wanted to give back to other veterans, whether they are just returning home or have been home for years.


“I know all too well the feeling of being alone and forgotten after coming home from Vietnam. It is a feeling that I do not want any veteran to experience.” Hooked On Heroes founder and United States Marine Corps Veteran Ron Cadle states.


He wanted a way to get them all together for a day of fun and relaxation while doing something everyone enjoys – fishing on the Gulf.


Cadle, along with his wife, Carolyn, work tirelessly putting together and organizing two fishing trips a year that, among other things, involves finding donors to help fund the operation, securing volunteer boat owners with captains to take the veterans out and finding ways to let the veterans know about it. There is even someone at Sea Hag Marina that will clean their fish for free, if the veteran chooses.


To sponsor a veteran for a day of fishing the cost is $100, but the trip is totally free for the veterans. Everything is supplied from their donuts and coffee in the morning to their lunch out on the water. Even their fishing gear, bait and fishing license are all taken care of. The boats come back in at 3 p.m.


The Cadles, along with the help of some great volunteers like Veteran Gene McCook and others, manage to organize and create a day of relaxation and camaraderie they all share from the common bonds of serving in our nation’s military.


Veterans suffering from PTSD and other combat related issues tell them this day of fishing with other veterans really helps them. They really enjoy a day on the water and getting together with other vets and swap stories. It really gives them something to look forward to, said Cadle.


He said they learn something new with each trip. Something they need to improve on or something they need to change. This trip afforded them the opportunity to learn they will have better organization with a microphone and a little sound system, making it easier to get everyone to their designated boats and making any announcements that need to be made.


Veterans who wish to participate in a day of fishing can call (386)288-4445 to sign up.


Boat owners who are willing to carry our nation’s military veterans out for a day of fishing in Steinhatchee in April, 2019, are asked to contact Ron Cadle at (386) 364-9589. Interested sponsors, including corporate sponsors, are encouraged to visit Hooked on Heroes on the web at www.hookedonheroes.com. To keep up with Hooked on Heroes visit their Facebook page.


Community support is everything. Without the donations and support of the community this would not be possible. Hooked On Heroes would like to thank everyone involved for their generosity and continued support of this worthwhile endeavor. Everyone involved is a volunteer, no one receives any compensation and every dime goes back into the organization.


Anyone wishing to sponsor a veteran may do so by sending monetary contributions to the Hooked on Heroes main office at 19783 Lancaster Road, Live Oak, FL 32060. Checks should be made out to Hooked on Heroes Corporation. All donations are tax deductible.


They would like the readers to know what a good time the veterans have going fishing.


“These veterans come in and thank us and hug us and everything else. They just constantly pour in on us – how much fun they had, how much they enjoyed it. (How they) can’t wait until the next one – how great the captains were. Even the captains come in and say what a good time they had and can’t wait until the next one. They love to hear the stories the vets tell about their experiences in combat and hearing their conversations, hearing what they really went through. It means so much,” Cadle said.


A special thank you to Suwannee Sheriff St. John and his team who helped sell chicken dinners last Friday at the Elks Lodge in Live Oak to help fund Hooked On Heroes next outing. Also a special thank you to the NJROTC from Suwannee High School who came out to Steinhatchee to help the day of the trip. They would also like to thank WQHL radio station, Subway of Steinhatchee, Walter B’s in Keaton Beach, Live Oak Elks Lodge and Lowe’s of Live Oak.


More Veterans going fishing with Hooked On Heroes.
-Photo: Submitted


This Gag Grouper caught in the Gulf during the Hooked On Heroes event will make a good meal. -Photo: Submitted


This Red Snapper was a catch and release.
-Photo: Submitted


Suwannee County Sheriff Sam St. John and a team of volunteers selling chicken and rice dinners at the Elks Lodge in Live Oak last Friday to help Hooked On Heroes with their next fishing trip.
-SVT Photo by Mark Stevenson