On July 3, twenty Korea and Vietnam Combat Veterans selected by Platte Rivers Veterans Fly Fishing embarked from PVREA headquarters on The Honor Float- an all-inclusive, five-star fishing adventure hosted by the Soaring Eagle Lodge below Navajo Dam in New Mexico. The three nights, four days, drift boat fly fishing experience on world class trout water was an all-expense paid event for the participants. The group of veterans that participated in this year’s event consisted of one Korea Conflict Combat Veteran and nineteen Vietnam Conflict Combat Veterans.
Platte Rivers Veterans Fly Fishing is a non-profit organization lead by volunteers to provide fly fishing, fly casting, fly tying and rod building classes for veterans from all branches of the military. One of PVREA’s team members, Ken McCoy, has been volunteering for three years and this year is serving on the board of directors. He explained his reason for getting involved with the organization is because he is a patriot and he likes sharing his passion for fly fishing.
During the planning for The Honor Float, Ken suggested the PVREA headquarters as the meeting place to depart. The Loveland Fire Department with a firetruck and PVREA with two bucket trucks flew American flags over the road for the veterans and boat guides to drive under on their way out. PVREA employees waved flags and cheered as the group departed to begin their trek.
In almost every county the group passed through, sheriff departments escorted the brigade. When they got to Pagosa Springs, they were welcomed by another flag hanging over the highway and fire fighters, sheriffs, American Legion members and volunteers lining the road, saluting the men giving them the honor they deserve.
While on the fishing adventure, one of the veterans, Clyde Brewer, said, “As Vietnam Vets, we just don’t expect this kind of VIP treatment. When I came home from my tour, soldiers were looked down upon because of the poor press the war received. It feels really good being recognized now for our efforts from way back then.”
While on the trip, fishing unified the men. Everyone caught at least one fish by 1pm the first day on the river. They spoke some about their experiences serving in the military, but mostly reminisced and shared fishing stories they remembered from growing up.
Veteran Fred Ramaker said. “Words can’t express the gratitude I have felt during this trip. Everything Platter Rivers has done and planned is overwhelming.” On the drive back to Colorado, Ken asked Fred what his favorite part of the trip was. With a grin he replied, “Fighting that 19-inch rainbow on the river. Other than that, I increased my circle of fishing friends by 25 people.”