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The Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) – Fort Belvoir Program hosted its 3rd Annual Salmon Cookout on the patio of the Fort Belvoir USO on Monday, July 17. A total of 84 veterans, volunteers and family members attended the cookout. This was double the number of people from last year.

The cookout idea started in 2015 when a veteran asked us to do a program on cooking fish. We do this as a family activity and ask those attending to bring a side dish or dessert.

The salmon filets were prepared and grilled on cedar planks which were soaked overnight.

Volunteers John Pastino, Scott Bearden, and Victor Kernus were the grill bosses. In the past, we’ve demonstrated how to prepare the salmon with the cedar plank and salmon rub and the veterans would then do it themselves. With a crowd of 84 to feed, we skipped the demo and started cooking 25 lbs. of salmon.

Old friends, Anita Low, on the left, and Eivind Forseth, on the righ,t recalled their days at Walter Reed in 2007.

Families got a break from cooking. The Brian Cross Family:

The Nima Emami Family:

Three of our veterans are leaving the area. We hated to say goodbye to (L-R), Rick Warrington, Clem Danish, and Tracey Smith. Bruce Gilley brought the cake.

Here are the directions for anyone wanting to do it themselves:


Salmon Planking Directions

  1. Soak the plank overnight. Other directions will tell you to soak it for an hour but an overnight soaking will alleviate flare-ups with the plank catching on fire.
  2. Bring the salmon to room temperature before applying the rub.
  3. Apply the rub. Follow the directions on the rub package. Some rubs require you mix with oil while others can be put directly on the salmon.
  4. Let the rub melt into the salmon for 10-15 minutes. You can do this before putting the salmon on the plank.
  5. Put the salmon on the plank
  6. Grill over indirect heat if possible for about 20 minutes for a 2 lb. salmon. On a 3 burner gas grill, shut off one burner and put the plank on that burner.
  7. On a direct heat grill, cook at around 400 degrees and monitor the plank for flare-ups. Salmon should be ready in 15-20 minutes.