102 Year Old Veteran Catching Walleyes During Pay It Forward Event
It was such a honor for everyone on the charter boat to spend a day on the water with Carl who is 102 years old. That was special all by itself. To top it off, Carl is a World War II veteran, has two purple hearts and a bronze star. And to make it even better, he was being accompanied by his son Harlan who is a Vietnam veteran. Again, a true honor.
This all is taking place as part of the Pay It Forward 2018 veterans event up at Lake of the Woods. For the fifth straight year, a wide variety of veterans, men and women, different branches of the military, young and old have come together to enjoy a three night, two day fishing trip on a resort charter boat with meals and guest speakers.
Carl was in Italy and involved in some fierce battles on the side of Mount Terrazzo. “At one point in time, things looked rough for us. We brought in a big gun and cleaned things up toward the top of the mountain which at least gave us a chance to make progress up the hill,” explains Carl while he hangs on to his fishing pole waiting for another walleye to grab his spinner and night crawler.
“I was dug in to a fox hole and had my head just above the edge when a big explosion hit about 75 yards away. It was a big mortar round that blew up a mule we used to haul equipment up the mountain. I was a bit stunned and didn’t know exactly if I was hit. I felt my face and it was wet. I looked at my hand it realized it was blood and shrapnel had struck me in the head,” explains the World War II decorated soldier. “I was hit in my leg with shrapnel in my leg as well along the way,” he explained.
Carl entertained the boat as he threw out some very excited explatives as he pulled in a 27.25″ walleye. This beast was his largest as he reeled in many and helped to fill the cooler.
His son Harlan had the biggest walleye of not only the boat but also the event with a 28″ walleye, and man was this fish healthy!
With much of the attention, and deservingly so, going to Carl, his son Harlan is a Vietnam Vet. Our veterans from Vietnam certainly didn’t receive the welcome home they deserved. It is a different time now with hopefully more respect for our heroes who served our country. Imagine giving life and limb fighting for the USA, being traumatized by seeing horrific results of war or learning of fellow friends and soldiers who didn’t return from battle and being disrespected upon touching land again in the great USA.
Harlan also has some musical talents and twice played the star spangled banner on his harmonica to open up evening programs. He did a wonderful job and set the tone for some wonderful speakers each night of the event.
The three days were filled with new friendships, laughter, tears, and most of all, love. For many, this leads to some healing. Or maybe, taking a step to seek help if help if needed. There is a special bond amongst veterans. Kind of a been there, done that experience that is created through experiences, sacrifice, and simply osmosis of being part of something that can be very challenging but was, and is so important to the freedom we live in today.
If you know of a veteran who might be a good candidate for the 2019 Pay It Forward event up at Lake of the Woods, send an email to myself, Joe Henry, at Joe.Henry@lakeofthewoodsmn.com or give me a call at 320-260-7727. We have a committee that helps choose veterans for the event. Young and old, male and female, all branches of the military.
A sincere thank you to all sponsors for this event. 100% of proceeds of this event goes to the event for the veterans. This event relies on the generosity of local resorts who participate, gracious businesses and individuals who donate on behalf of our vets.
To find out more about Pay It Forward, check out our website at www.payitforwardlow.org.
Thank you to all veterans. Your service to our country is appreciated!