The TWRA, Tellico Hatchery held Project healing Waters Tellico River Fishing Event. Although the third year for a Project Healing Waters event, this was the first year that anglers fished the Tellico River. The event was previously held at Green Cove Pond.
This year’s event was held in honor of the two fallen naval aviators, Lieutenant Patrick “Tank” Ruth and Lieutenant j.g.
Wallace “Hershey” Burch whose plane crashed near the hatchery on October 1. A moment of silence was held and Chattanooga Pipes and Drums played a tribute to the fallen airmen. The Hammer 2 Ace Communications Division, Air force out of Warner Robins, Georgia was also honored and joined the event. U.S. Naval Commander Brian Baumgaertner was presented with a flag that flew over the crash site during recovery efforts.
Veterans from various backgrounds attended. WWII, Vietnam and Gulf War veterans were present. Each veteran was provided with a guide and fished from 8 a.m. to noon. TWRA employees Freddy Kelley, Steve Massengill and Travis Scott treated veterans, volunteers and staff to a tremendous barbeque and chili lunch. Many veterans returned to the river to continue fishing until sundown.
Hatchery employees Jessica Matoy and Rob Theurer, an Army veteran, along with Jon Ellis, hatchery manager, value this event. Mr. Ellis said, “There are opportunities for veterans to get outside through many avenues including those provided by Operation Healing Waters. We’re honored to provide this occasion.” Mr. Ellis oversees the trout stocking in the area and the event coincided with a delayed harvest stocking. A total of 1,741 rainbow trout equaling 2,357 lbs. were stocked into the river and Green Cove Pond. Delayed harvest is catch and release only. Many of the anglers caught fish exceeding 18 inches, known as Tellico trophies.
Mr. Ellis said, “United States veterans have served this country in ways that many of us will never understand. We’re honored to thank them and give back. We hope this event brings comradery and a chance to enjoy a peaceful time in this beautiful area. We are grateful to work with Mr. Ross Schweinforth, a retired USMC Vietnam Veteran, who partnered with us on behalf of Project Healing Waters.”
Sponsors of the event included TWRA, Southern Grind Custom Knife Works, Mike Fahey, Wilderness 4 Warriors, Riverbend Farms, and the Ocoee Regional Builder’s Association. Mr. Ellis said, “There’s no doubt that this event will continue. So many people from the community have come forward in support of the event”.
Anyone interested in learning more about Project Healing Waters is encouraged to contact their local chapter. Contacts can be found at www.projecthealingwaters.org.