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Longtime volunteer leader and PHWFF Ambassador Chris Thompson shares an eloquent piece on the 5th Annual Fly Tying Marathon held at the National Museum of the Marine Corps on March 17, 2018.  This annual event brings together supporters, fly tiers, and veterans for a fun day of tying flies for the use of PHWFF Programs across the country.  Our thanks to the National Museum of the Marine Corps and all those who who contributed to this stellar event.

Footsteps echoed through the empty atrium of the National Museum of the Marine Corps, accompanied by the dull squeak of carts laden with tables and chairs. Voices still dull from sleep cut through the silence, as old friends still in need of coffee said hello and unloaded the carts. They were soon joined by the exuberant Gwenn Adams, Public Affairs Chief of the museum, whose enthusiasm was contagious. As more men and women weighted down with boxes, bags, and banners entered the hall, the atmosphere immediately changed from sleepy to excited. It was March 17th, and time to finish preparing for the 5th Annual Fly Tying Marathon hosted by the Quantico and Fort Belvoir Programs of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc.

Throughout the day those tables and chairs would be filled by 74 fly tiers, all there to tie flies for donation to Project Healing Waters. They were a diverse crowd, from all over Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina. Children as young as 12 joined old timers in their 80’s. Ladies and gentlemen of all ages laughed and talked fishing as they bound feathers and fur to hook shanks.

As museum comers wandered, looked on, and engaged with questions, Program Participants, Volunteers, and unaffiliated tiers joined together to fill a large wooden table with the fruits of their efforts. Breaking only for lunch and to stretch their legs, the volunteers tied from the opening until closing of the museum doors. A small group of volunteers remained behind to clean up, and to count and categorize the flies.

6068 flies left the museum that evening for distribution to Project Healing Waters Programs across the nation. It was the most flies ever collected at the event, whose efforts supplied flies to 71 Programs last year. The event staff and museum personnel couldn’t have been happier, with both organizations speaking of next year’s event as they walked to their cars. The evening ended with all parties content with the event’s performance, and an even greater sense of pride in the contribution everyone’s efforts made for our Participants.