Peninsula fly-fishing clubs aid disabled veterans

It didn't take much to convince members of two local fly-fishing clubs to become involved in a program called Project Healing Waters.

After Chuck Tye, the Northwest regional coordinator for Project Healing Waters made a presentation at one of the club's meetings, everyone was hooked.

Turns out those who have a penchant for fly-fishing and fly tying like to share their hobby with others.

Last week, members of both the Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishers of Port Angeles and the Greywolf Fly Fishing Club of Gardiner presented 100 fly tying tool kits to Tye at the Wasatch Angling factory in

Sequim. The kits will become part of the rehabilitation program for disabled active duty military personnel and veterans from all military branches.

Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishers president Joe Hudon presented Tye with the tool kits worth $11,500. Each kit contains gold-plated tools with wooden handles made by members of the clubs using equipment at the Wasatch Angling factory. Dean Childs, owner of Wasatch Angling, as well as supply vendors, donated much of the material used. Leather pouches were purchased by both clubs and engraved by Peninsula Awards and Trophies with the Project Healing Waters logo.

"The tool kits have been met with great satisfaction and gratitude by rehabbing military personnel," said Hudon, after eight of the kits were delivered to various veterans' facilities throughout the Northwest.

Project Healing Waters was started at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., and quickly expanded nationwide. The project serves military personnel who have been wounded or disabled to aid in their physical and emotional recovery by introducing or rebuilding the skills of fly-fishing and fly tying and by using these skills on fishing outings.

Olympic Peninsula Fly Fisher Tim Berry, along with Childs, a member of both clubs, sparked the clubs' interest in becoming involved with Project Healing Waters after learning about the organization at national fly-fishing expositions. Childs asked Tye to give a presentation at a local club meeting.

"Members were very moved by what Chuck told them about the organization," Childs said.

During the presentation, Childs related a story about a request from Sgt. Major Tim Didas, leader of a unit of 4,000 Marines stationed in Iraq, for a particular fly tying tool he needed to tie during off-duty times.

Childs not only sent Didas the tool, he sent him an entire tool kit. Since then, the two men have kept in contact.

In addition to the tool kit presentation on Aug. 20, a preview of special hand-tied flies representing military campaign ribbons from World War II, Vietnam, Korea and Desert Storm was displayed. The flies were tied by Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishers members under the direction of past club president John Gort. These flies will be mounted in a fly plate, a framed collection of these works of art. The fly plate will be presented to Project Healing Waters to display at national fly-fishing meetings for possible auction.

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