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By Tim Norris, PHW Rocky River Ohio

On Saturday July 24, a group of Veterans and volunteers with Project Healing Waters Rocky River had the great fortune of attending Battalion Warrior Night with Marines of the 3d Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment. Over 200 Marines in attendance had just completed an annual 2-week training exercise. The event was held at a pond-side pavilion on Camp Garfield in Ravenna, Ohio. The night’s activities included athletic competitions, BBQ, an awards ceremony, camaraderie, and an intro to fly fishing from the Veterans and volunteers of PHW Rocky River. 

This event was an incredible opportunity to close the gap between our current warfighters and Veterans who have served in the past. We started by offering fly casting demos and instructions to interested Marines. After about an hour of instruction, we were not surprised to see most of these Marines throwing loops and shooting line – attaining a level of proficiency that takes many people weeks or months to achieve. 

After casting instructions, we joined the Marines for dinner provided by Mission BBQ. Following dinner, longtime PHW Rocky River Veteran Tyler Bales had a chance to address the group of Marines. Tyler deployed to the Al-Anbar province of Iraq with 3/25 in 2005 and received an honorable discharge after he completed his contract. He spoke about life after the Marine Corps – the importance of the camaraderie he formed with other Marines while in the Corps, how he missed that aspect of service, and how organizations like Project Healing Waters help Veterans keep that spirit of camaraderie alive in life after service. 

After dinner, the group walked down to the pond and caught a handful of largemouth bass and panfish. The evening ended with an award ceremony for the Marines. Our Veterans all agreed it “brought back memories, in a good way.” We are incredibly grateful to the Marines and the leadership of 3/25 for inviting us to Battalion Warrior Night. Several Marines inquired about how to volunteer with PHW and we look forward to fishing with you and our Veterans in the near future. Only about 2 months until the steelhead start coming back! 

Footnote: The 3d Battalion, 25th Marines is headquartered in Brook Park, Ohio, just 2.5 miles away as the crow flies from some of the finest steelhead fishing on the Rocky River. PHW Rocky River is incredibly grateful to count many Marines who have served with 3/25 as part of our program. This group includes Marines that served in the 1970s, Marines that are still in the Corps, and several Marines who deployed to the Al-Anbar province of Iraq in 2005 and fought in some of the fiercest engagements of the insurgency.

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