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Posted 4/30/2015

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By Sean McBride
Public Affairs

The sounds of exclamation and nervous squealing were prominent on March 20, when the Charleston District hosted their inaugural Wounded Warrior Project fishing tournament with Wounded Warriors from around the Lowcountry. Approximately 20 Wounded Warriors attended the event, which was held at the District’s St. Stephen Powerhouse and fishlift.

The Wounded Warriors spent the morning fishing in the tailrace canal for American shad, blueback herring and catfish, and were rewarded with lots of success, which accounted for the sounds of exclamation. But the day wasn’t about fishing. It was about providing an activity for our nation’s heroes.

“I’ve reconnected with a lot of old friends and met a lot of new ones and the Corps has been great,” said Matthew Witkowski, a Wounded Warrior. “We’re catching fish or we’re not catching fish and we’re still having fun. You’re around guys and gals that understand. You don’t have to explain if something happens and you start to get the shakes because you can recognize other people’s symptoms and they can recognize yours and lend a hand and you know you’re amongst friends.”

The day was also an opportunity for STEM outreach with Ashley Hall School. Junior girls from the marine biology class came out to aid the Wounded Warriors, as well as learn about fish biology from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. The girls were put in charge of collecting fish, and then measuring and sexing the fish, as well as collecting scale samples, which is where the sounds of nervous squealing came from.

“[Fishing] is very important to the biological aspect of South Carolina and DNR because we’re taking data of fish that are going through the fishlift,” said Liz Walters, a junior at Ashley Hall. “It means so much to be around the Wounded Warriors and my classmates and builds a strong sense of character in the community and builds that connection that we’ll remember even as we get older and recognize service members.”

The event was held in the middle of fish spawning season, which runs from February 1 through May 15. During this time, most of the 750,000 fish that pass through the fishlift each year will swim through to spawn. This heavy influx of fish made it an ideal time to hold the fishing tournament and collect data on the spawning fish.

The event was a successful day of outreach with both the Wounded Warrior Project and Ashley Hall. The Charleston District is proud to aid in the recovery of our nation’s heroes and help grow the minds of our future leaders.