FORT KNOX, Ky. – First Team kids were catching fish, laughing, and enjoying the sunshine together with their families April 30 during a fishing derby at Fort Knox’s Camp Carlson Military Park.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10281, a 1st Theater Sustainment Command and Fort Knox community partner based out of Vine Grove, hosted the fishing derby, which was open to the entire community.
Staff members from Fort Knox Morale, Welfare and Recreation worked together with the VFW and unit volunteers to make the event happen. The VFW members provided and cooked lunch. They also proclaimed every participant a winner.
“All kids 15 and under received a fishing pole, tackle box and lures,” said Pat Lechevalier, a VFW volunteer. “This is all for the kids, and every child is a winner,” he added.
As the longest lifetime member at the post, Lechevalier said that he was part of the original planning committee. “We have been hosting a fishing derby since 1995,” he said.
This is the first year they hosted the installation’s fishing derby at Camp Carlson, but Lechevalier said that members want this to be the new location for the fishing derby in the future, partnering with MWR. Previous derbies were held at Nolan Lake State Park near Mammoth Cave, but they canceled the derby the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Smaller than Nolan Lake, the 25-acre, recently-stocked lake at Camp Carlson provided plenty of opportunity for some of the 250 participants to experience catching a fish – even if some fish didn’t meet requirements for keeping. Some of the fish caught included catfish, crappie, bluegill and bass.
There were many first-time catches and some personal records met. However, it was the opportunity to bond as a family which brought out most Soldiers and their children to participate.
Staff Sgt. Kierra Magee, material manager, 1st TSC, brought her 6-year-old son, Jarin, fishing for the morning.
“I came out to do something different and to make memories with my son,” she said. Magee helped Jarin put the worms on the hook, but he cast the line.
Capt. Koty Caldwell, operations officer, 1st TSC, brought out his entire family. “If it’s outside, we like to do it,” the avid outdoorsman said.
“I’ve been fishing for probably 26 years,” Caldwell said. “I used to fish with my grandfather a lot.”
Now he shares his love of hiking, hunting and fishing with his three sons, Trevin, Blaine and Ezra.
Maj. Sean Floeter, G-37 training and exercise operations officer, 1st TSC, took his son, Robert, fishing, and he quickly caught a fish.
Soldiers and family members from 1st TSC not only fished at the event, but they showed up to volunteer. 1st TSC volunteers registered participants, rigged rods, coached, taught, and hooked worms.
First Team volunteer Sgt. 1st Class Bryan Brewer, operations sergeant, rigged more than 90 rods while he coached and taught many new anglers.
Lt. Col. Brian Kibitlewski, commander, Special Troops Battalion, 1st TSC, volunteered with his wife Michelle and daughter Leah, 15.
Theresa Scott, family readiness support assistant, 1st TSC, also volunteered at the derby. She staffed the registration table and helped families with questions.
“Today was an outstanding opportunity for Fort Knox, its installation partner VFW Post 10281, and the surrounding community to share time together and get to know one another again on such a beautiful day," Kibitlewski said.
1st TSC’s Sgt. 1st Class Ralph Boyd, G-5 plans noncommissioned officer in charge, who staffed the station weighing and measuring catches, said that out of the 91 fish he weighed, the biggest catch of the day was a 2.18-pound catfish.
“It was so awesome hearing so many kids catch their first fish,” Boyd said. “The Cabreras and the Floeters were extremely excited about their catches.”
Boyd said he enjoyed working with the VFW as they strive to give back to their community.
“I truly enjoyed sharing the gift and fun that fishing brings, and I can't wait for next year!"