PELL CITY – Veteran Lorenzo Burke held the fishing pole tightly in his left hand. A small tackle box sat between his feet on the wheelchair’s foot brace.
He was ready for some fishing.
“I didn’t have any luck on my last trip,” Burke said. “Maybe I will catch one this time.”
Burke joined 30 of his fellow veterans from the Col. Robert L. Howard State Veterans Home in Pell City on Wednesday, May 2, for a morning outing on Logan Martin Lake.
“We have a beautiful day for it,” said Dawn Lowell, who is a volunteer at the VA Home and was helping with the trip that started at Woods Surfside Marina. “We try to do this twice a year, September and May.”
Organizers said they think it’s their fourth year to take veterans on a relaxing trip out on the lake. Some of the older veterans just enjoy riding on one of the pontoon boats, while others head out on bass boats with professional anglers to see if they can catch the “big one.”
“We have some of the best anglers out here,” said Lee Holmes, owner of Sylacauga Marine & ATV Inc.
Holmes and pro anglers Alan Yarbrough, Phil Farmer and Curtis Coleman guided veterans fishing on their high-tech bass boats.
Mark Hildebrant, with Woods Surfside Marina, said the veterans go out for two to three hours and then return to the marina, where they are treated to lunch.
Burke returned to the marina with stories of why that “big one” got away.
“I got my line all tangled up,” he said, adding that despite striking out, again, it was all fun. “It was wonderful and enlightening.”
Veteran Art Cranston said this was his fourth time to attend the event.
“It was a comfortable ride, seeing all the scenery,” he said. “It was nice, real nice. I tell you what, the one thing I look forward to is coming back for their lunch. It’s so good.”
On this outing, four pontoon boats and four bass boats were used to carry veterans out on the lake.
“I didn’t fish today,” said Ralph Mark, who is an avid fisherman. “I just love being out here.”
Veteran Terry Yenour said it was his first visit to Logan Martin Lake.
“I liked it,” he said, adding that it was a nice break from the VA Home.
Organizers said the late Jerry Woods, the former owner of Woods Surfside Marina, was the person who helped get the event started. Woods was a veteran, having served in the U.S. Army as a sergeant.
Woods also was also one of the founders of the annual Lakefest event, which is held at Lakeside Park each year. Last year, the event had a fireworks display honoring veterans from the Veterans Home. This year’s Lakefest is slated for May 18-19 at Lakeside Park.
Not only was the lake trip a big hit for the veterans, it was also a lot of fun for volunteers.
“This,” Holmes said as he looked at all the older veterans who gathered at the marina, “really makes your heart feel good,”