'Take a Warrior Fishing' day on American Lake
July 20, 2012
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- When Sergeant 1st Class Thomas Lazzarini and his family arrived at Joint Base Lewis-McChord earlier this year, they talked about visiting American Lake, but the family hadn't made the trip before Lazzarini deployed to Afghanistan with C Company, 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Division in May.
Lazzarini's wife, Randi, and their four children were given the opportunity to fish at the lake Saturday at the annual Take a Warrior Fishing event organized by the Evergreen Bass Club and Catch a Special Thrill Foundation.
"I sent him a text message that said we're out fishing on a boat on American Lake," Randi Lazzarini said. "We've been fishing a few times and thought it would be great to come out and see other families."
Lazzarini and their children, Domnic, Jazzmine, Noah and Madison, were in one of nearly 50 boats scattered around American Lake as part of the event to recognize service members and their families.
"It's our way of saying thank you," CAST Executive Director Jim Owens said. "We really encourage them to bring their families because we really want to be able to do something for all of them."
More than 100 service and family members participated in the event, nearly doubling last year's attendance. Each of the 53 military members who participated received a fishing rod, tackle box, T-shirt and hat to keep.
Participants checked in at Russell Landing on Lewis North at 6 a.m. where a catered breakfast was provided. The families were assigned to fishing boats volunteered by members of the Evergreen Bass Club, and by 7:30 a.m. they were out on the water, where the yellow perch and rock bass were bountiful.
First Lieutenant James McMillon of the 555th Engineer Brigade and his four children made a friendly competition out of the day by awarding a $10 prize to the family member who caught the most fish. At mid-morning McMillon led with six catches.
"I don't think the fish will fall for this," 4-year-old Sydney McMillon said as she inspected the power bait on the end of her fishing line. Sydney said she would buy ice cream if she won.
Participants arrived back on shore after five hours of fishing to enjoy a barbecue lunch and to mingle with visiting Seattle Seahawks players Roy Lewis, Jameson Konz, Cameron Morrah and Clinton McDonald. Service members and their families posed for photos with the professional football players and their catches of the day.
This year marked the fourth year the Evergreen Bass Club organized the Take a Warrior Fishing event, and the second year of the event partnered with the CAST Foundation. Tournament Director Al Lewis of the Evergreen Bass Club is also an Army retiree. Helping to organize the event is something special to the former Soldier who served for more than 20 years.
"We wouldn't be able to pursue the sport we love in our great country if they didn't do what they did," Lewis said. "We're just saying thanks."