Veterans and their families enjoyed a day of paddling and fishing, food, and live music at the first-ever "Veterans on the Susquehanna" event in Wrightsville, York County, on Saturday, Aug. 29. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Heroes on the Water–Central Pennsylvania Chapter, and the Cumberland Valley and Muddy Creek chapters of Trout Unlimited joined forces to host the day.
Shank's Mare Outfitters, along the Susquehanna River, was the ideal setting to honor the sacrifices made by veterans, to spend the afternoon on the water, and to appreciate why clean water counts in York County and across the Commonwealth.
Our "Clean Water Counts: York" campaign is underway in York County. Its goal is to make residents aware of local water quality issues and solutions, and to build and motivate advocacy to reduce water pollution in the county and across the Commonwealth. There are 19,000 miles of impaired waterways across Pennsylvania; 350 miles are in York County.
"The iconic waterways flowing through York County's diverse community are a part of the local way of life," said CBF's Pennsylvania Outreach and Advocacy Manager Amanda John. "'Clean water counts: York' is bringing together individuals, businesses, and organizations from around the county to make sure elected officials are made aware of pollution protections those waterways need."
York County commissioners Doug Hoke and Chris Reilly attended the event.
Veterans and their families paddled the Susquehanna and fished under the watchful eyes of guides from Heroes on the Water. Heroes on the Water, many of them veterans themselves, also provided kayaks and fishing gear.
U.S. Army veteran Francine Praught of Lancaster was all smiles as she paddled out onto the Susquehanna. Praught admitted to catching more grasses than fish, and that getting out and enjoying time on the river was the ultimate goal of her day.
Air Force veterans Daniel Schaan of Washington, D.C., and Sarah Shaffer of Etters, shared the Susquehanna experience in a tandem kayak. Marines Corps veteran Daniel Graff of York and his son, "DJ," were guided on the water by Joe Pegnetter. Graff and his son later added fly-casting lessons to their experience.
Muddy Creek Trout Unlimited volunteers Chris Haag, Kelly Warren, Andrew Kimsey, and Alan Howe of Cumberland Valley Trout Unlimited, helped guests get into the swing of things, by sharing fly-casting techniques with all who wanted to learn them. Joe Myers of Wrightsville and Sue Ferrell of Mt. Wolf attended the event for the fly-casting instructions alone. Myers had recently gotten a fly rod and was anxious to learn how to use it.
Not able to attend in person, U.S. Senator Pat Toomey sent his best wishes in a letter recognizing participants and organizers. "For nearly two and a half centuries, Americans have selflessly risen to answer the call of freedom," Senator Pat Toomey said. "From Lexington and Concord, to Gettysburg, Normandy, Korea, Vietnam, and most recently Afghanistan and Iraq; American soldiers have gone to the ends of the earth to fight oppression and tyranny, and to uphold the cause of freedom. Many brave Americans have paid the ultimate sacrifice for defending our freedoms and never returned home to see their families."
Senator Toomey added that, "It is fitting that we gather together on occasions like these to express our gratitude for all that our armed service members, current and past, have done to protect our way of life and keep our nation free."
"We're thrilled to partner with Heroes on the Water and local Trout Unlimited chapters and to see nearly 100 local veterans and supporters gain so much from their experiences on and around the water," CBF's John added. "We look forward to hosting a second annual 'Veterans on the Susquehanna' in 2016 to honor and celebrate the sacrifice and bravery of even more of these local heroes."
— B.J. Small, CBF's Pennsylvania Media and Communications Coordinator