Operation Muskie 2015 is over and was another tremendous event and success. It was also our last and on behalf of all of us at OM I wanted to say ‘thanks’! With the help of all of you and all of our supporters we can say with pride and happiness, ’Mission Accomplished’. 8 years and 160 Vets paid back, at least in small part, for their services to our Country-and this year 2 very deserving Canadian Vets and allies as well.
OM success is attributable to so many it’s hard to thank everyone but let me give special thanks to a few.
First, thanks to Frank and Laura Walsh at Baystore Camp for starting and hosting this event and for the unbelievable amount of work you’ve done to insure it’s success. We all love and thank you-Vets included. Folks, going to Lake Of The Woods? Consider Baystore and the Walsh’s, IMO the best little fishing camp in the Muskie world.
Special thanks to Doug and Vonnie Johnson who, with my wife Betsy, were there at the beginning to help us get this ‘operation’ up and running. Likewise to their daughter in Mpls. who is a lawyer and helped get us incorporated. Also, then Sgt. Bret Wold of the MN National guard who really was the ‘first Vet’ and who helped get the first group selected and the operation rolling.
Fundraising is always a challenge and there have been hundreds of cash contributors over the 8 years, including anonymous ones, thanks to all. Special thanks to the following: Scott Holden, Barry Monfore, Butch and Wendy Zens, Marjorie Simchuck (my wife’s mother, now deceased), Daniel Gorchals, Benjamin Olsen, Patrick and Lisa Luetmer, John Gillespie and Darren Hanifl. You know what you did, above and beyond.
Along fundraising lines, please support all our sponsors and their names can be found on our website. However a very special thanks to Mills Fleet Farm for their large and consistent donations on behalf of our Vets. Outstanding! Please support them when you can. I personally do as much shopping in their tremendous stores as possible and can’t thank them enough.
A special thanks to Steve Worrall and the people at Muskies 1st for all their help over the years with publicity and the various auctions.
The Vets initially meet in Warroad, MN and every ‘operation’ starts there. The support from that community and the surrounding communities has been tremendous. Thank you all! Special thanks to Marvin Windows for your support and for hosting the kick off breakfast every year. Special thanks to all the Patriot Guards and all the former Vets in the American Legion and VFW Posts around that area (Warroad, Roseau and Williams) for being there, serving as Honor Guards and formally greeting and honoring the incoming Vets. Thanks to US Customs and the officers there for the tours and facilitating the entry/exit into Canada. Ditto to Canadian Customs.
When the Vets arrive at the ‘Angle’, the local community there supports them 100%. Various donations and contributions insure they get free vehicle parking and transportation to the island with all their gear, among other things. Special thanks to the McKeever families (Youngs Bay and Jerrys Restaurant), Deb Butler and family, Dave and Bonnie Vickaryous, the Carlsons and NW Angle and Island Freight and Vicki and Scott Boos.
On the island and otherwise we’ve had a support ‘staff’ beyond belief and description. From dockboys to cooks to people preparing and cleaning cabins their hard work has made the operations flow smoothly. You know who you are, thanks from the bottom of my heart!
Special thanks to former Vet participants Jeff Weigand and Chris Green who have found, selected and coordinated the Vets and the ‘Operation’ for years. Also to Jim and Pam Best who have served respectively as Business advisor and guide, and Treasurer and ‘staff’ throughout. They have also hosted and accommodated overflow guides and staff at their own cabin. Again, above and beyond. Very special thanks to my wife Betsy, few know how helpful she has been.
Special thanks to Pete Maina, John Gillespie and camera man Ryan Erdman for your years of service and filming of the event. Priceless coverage the Vets enjoyed and will be able to enjoy in the future. Thanks also for your extra fund raising efforts and contributions.
Guides, past and present. Man not sure what to say. We will forever be indebted to you for your tireless efforts to put the Vets on fish, and more importantly, make their trips a lifetime memory in so many ways. Words can’t express our appreciation for what you have accomplished and done for us and the Vets. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You are the best of muskie men!!!!!
A special thanks to Canada and the Canadian people for allowing us and the Vets to enjoy your marvelous natural resources. Lake of the Woods has to be one of the best and most beautiful places on earth. As I said in our closing ceremony, many of my greatest life experiences have taken place there and I am grateful to you. Thanks.
Last, but most certainly not least, thank you to all Vets for your service to our Country. Of course this includes the many who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their brethren and Country. For the 160 who we have been fortunate to meet through this Operation, we say thank you for attending and the honor of being in your presence. May your futures be bright, peaceful and happy.
God bless you all!