News Stories

Volunteer Fishing Tournament Group Supports Active Duty Military, Wounded Vets at Jordan Lake

Published Nov. 13, 2018

“Having never been in the service I see this as a way to support our servicemen and women and to say thank you for the sacrifices that they have made and will continue to make to protect our country. We are a completely volunteer organization, and no one receives any compensation other than feeling good about what we do.”

    David Blanton, vice president and tournament director for the non-profit Warriors on the Water Military Appreciation Bass Fishing Tournament, looks forward to the month of May when volunteers host the annual tournament at the Wilmington District’s Jordan Lake. Wilmington District rangers assist as needed, and ensured that public facilities were available for use.

   The first fishing tournament, he said, started in 2006 on Shearon Harris Reservoir in Wake County with approximately 60 boats.  Blanton said it was the idea of three veterans as a way to say thanks to service members. It was only intended to be a one-time event, but after the tournament was over, someone asked if the founders were going to continue it the following year. 

   “Their answer was to make it bigger!” Blanton said.  “So the three decided to form a committee and here we are, thirteen years later. The next year the field was expanded to 150 boats and moved to Jordan Lake.”

  Blanton said Warriors on the Water accommodates all branches of active duty service members from Fort Bragg, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, and Camp Lejeune.  They especially have a soft heart for those who attend the tournament who suffer from Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other battle-related injuries. 

   “We have had wounded service members from the Wounded Warriors Transition Center at Fort Bragg in the tournament,” he said.  “As far as what they and the active duty service members get out of fishing a tournament, I would say they see the support from the community and the Nation, and they get a day off to hopefully just relax and enjoy the outdoors away from work. And there are always the friendships that are made with their boaters and the whole organization. We average taking out at least 150 service members.”

   Blanton said there’s an additional outreach program called Little Heroes. Every year, a few volunteer boaters go to one of the schools on Fort Bragg to talk about fishing and the outdoors.    

    “This is just another way we feel we can serve our veterans,” he said. 

   The success of the program has begun a dialogue about expansion to include hunting and other recreational activities.  Michael Green, Warriors on the Water president, said that it’s possible, but only for veterans in North Carolina.

   “I want to grow it because we have been asked numerous time to expand to other states from New York to Pennsylvania to Virginia, and to South Carolina,” he said.  “But due to us being all volunteers and most having jobs, it would be hard to expand to other states. Bringing in other activities is always welcome, and this year we had a fund raiser to send a hunter to Michigan for a deer hunting trip.”