VICENZA, Italy – The last time Spc. Raven Lawrence went fishing was a year ago back home in Georgia, casting for bass and catfish.
This year, Lawrence fished for rainbow trout thanks to an Army team-building event organized by Richard Boudreau, a retired Army master sergeant and fishing advisor for Outdoor Recreation at Caserma Ederle. Lawrence said he loved the experience.
“My favorite part was being about to catch your own fish and cook it,” Lawrence said. “It reminded me of a family reunion, with the company.”
Roughly 70 paratroopers from Lawrence’s unit, Company D, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, took part in the fishing trip to Lago Azzurro, or Blue Lake. Fed by the Chiampo River, the lake rests in a sunny valley surrounded by lush trees, just a 45-minute drive northwest of Vicenza.
Richard Boudreau and Capt. Ryan Spinuzzi-Nichols, Company D’s commander, organized the day for the unit’s Soldiers. A decade ago, Boudreau hosted fishing for wounded warriors. Now, he continues by informing Soldiers about the activities that Outdoor Recreation offers.
“They didn’t have a lot of activities for Soldiers when I was in, but now the Army is doing a lot more for Soldiers and Families than ever before,” Boudreau said.
With Boudreau’s help, Outdoor Recreation is looking to expand the fishing programs for community members and perhaps offer discounts at local lakes. They are also planning fishing and kayaking at Lake Garda, a famous lake north of Verona.
Most fishing stories include the one that got away, but the June 3 trip was all about fun.
Specialist Carlos Elias, a Puerto Rico native, who last went fishing with his dad 15 years ago, said he enjoyed playing games and using the grills to cook the fish they caught.
“It was fun and there are lot of things to do in the Army besides work,” Elias said.
In addition to the fishing, the park featured a restaurant a playground, and outdoor grills for cooking the plentiful rainbow trout. The restaurant, a farmhouse turned inn that hosted Napoleon in 1813, has been in the same family for three generations. A day casting together got the Soldiers hooked.
“I would one hundred percent do it again,” Lawrence said.