VICENZA, Italy - They say that fishing is good for the soul. Even renowned guitarist Eric Clapton is known to relax by wading the fly-fishing streams of Wales.

For Soldiers of the Warrior Transition Unit on Caserma Ederle, a day trip to the waters of Laghi Verdi (Green Lakes) delivered a chance to unwind, while enjoying an angling tournament with friends under sunny skies.

Organizer Richard Boudreau, who was supported by numerous people and organizations on post, said he searched for an event that would benefit injured members by "getting them out of the barracks for some fun."

His solution: a fishing excursion to the nearby community of Valproto di Quinto Vicentino. "I figured (it) would be the easiest way to get the most Soldiers involved," he said.

After coordinating with the WTU and the U.S. Army Garrison Vicenza Morale, Welfare and Recreation office, Boudreau wrote more than 35 letters to potential sponsors asking for donations. Several organizations - including Veterans of Foreign Wars, Global Credit Union, Community Bank, Defense Commissary Agency and especially Vicenza MWR Outdoor Recreation - pledged their support.

One of Boudreau's first stop was to visit Outdoor Rec's Chris Wolff, explaining what was needed, with MWR covering the cost of licenses and fees.

"(Our participation) was a no-brainer for us," said Wolff. "This was a great way to help out our wounded Soldiers and to invest our resources in a way that all of them could readily enjoy."

Staff Sgt. Patrick Chaplain, NCOIC of the WTU, called such activities or outings "all part of the healing process."

"We have different levels of injuries," he said, "so this is a good event to allow the maximum number of Soldiers."

"We get the guys out ... stimulate their minds and challenge them a bit," Chaplain added. "They all seem to be having a good time; that's what it's all about for us."

With more than a dozen participants, "This was a good way for us to get out of the barracks and have fun as a unit," said Pfc. Aaron Parris, who has been assigned to the Warrior Transition Unit for six months. "The WTU folks take great care of us."

"I'm not an avid fisherman," he admitted, "but we enjoyed (our) downtime together."

During the outing, there was a contest for the most fish caught by individuals and teams, along with a competition for the biggest catch.

First place prizes went to Sgt. Steve Lourigan, with 14 fish; and Parris, who snagged the largest fish, which weighed 7 pounds.

The Soldiers, who caught a total of 86 fish, had various levels of angling experience. For Spc. Nancy Van Maaren, this was her first time. "I had a great time," she said. "I'm hooked."

Page last updated Tue January 29th, 2008 at 06:01