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A Day on the James with an American Hero
Posted on 03/25/2008
Bryan and Jarrod SimsBryan Sims, an American fighting in Iraq, called me from Iraq to book a fishing trip. He said he would be home for a couple of weeks and said he just wanted to take his son fishing and see him catch a few fish. We talked for a few minutes, exchanged emails and took care of all the details over the internet. We set the trip for the afternoon of Monday, March 24, 2008. At the last minute I thought how great it would be to find a way to give Bryan a free fishing trip for him and his son, Jarrod. On Monday morning, the day of the trip, I called and spoke with Glenn Carter. I told him the story and how great it would be if we could raise some money through donations from VAC members to give the free trip. Within an hour, Glenn called back and stated he had raised enough to pay for the whole trip. Glenn sent out a few emails and thirteen members of the VAC donated 25 bucks apiece. The members who donated are Dean Winstead, Buddy Noland, Parks Rountree, Bob Shepherd, Stuart Lee, Danny Noland, Elly Robinson, LeRoy Houser, Glenn Carter, John Wetlaufer, Johnny Wetlaufer, Jeff Doughty and Ryan Noland. That was awesome. The next thing was, "When do I tell them about the VAC's donation of the trip to them?" When Bryan and Jarrod got onto the boat, they were pumped to be on the river. About ten minutes into the trip, the perfect time arose and I let them know that the evening's fishing trip was paid for by the Virginia Anglers Club in appreciation of his service to our country. He stopped in his tracks, looked at me, said that wasn't necessary, and I told him, "It was already done." He just stared for a minute with appreciation in his eyes and a big smile on his face. Bryan said he and so many soldiers are amazed at the reception they get when traveling in uniform. He said so many people walk up to him just shake his hand and say thanks. Throughout the evening I told Bryan and Jarrod little tidbits about the VAC. Bryan kept saying how weird it was to be in the desert of Iraq on Friday, and here he was on the James River on Monday. Bryan worked with a team that swept through roads and rubble detonating IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices). They used a beam of energy to detonate the explosives. He said the deeper they are buried, the closer you need to get to blow them up. Three times his armored car has been blown up, and three times he's been "slightly" injured. It was very interesting talking with him about his experiences. The evening proved to be a perfect evening of fishing and wildlife watching for them. They caught and kept about a dozen blue cats in the five to twelve pound range. I filleted and bagged them for the guys to take back to Fredericksburg for a good fish fry the next day. One of the highlights of the evening was Jarrod, Bryan's sixteen year old son, hooking into a forty plus pound blue catfish, in shallow water, that showed it's tail by exploding on the surface of the water four or five times. We were fishing in a very "woody" area, and the fish found some structure and broke off. That fish will add to the lore of the evening on the James River for those guys. - Mike Ostrander