Combat Injured Veteran Anglers Celebrated at 2021 War Heroes on Water Sport Fishing Tournament Awards | national news


NEWPORT BEACH, California, October 8, 2021 / PRNewswire / – One by One, Founder of the WHOW Tournament and Founder and CEO of LoanDepot Anthony Hsieh personally sent each of the 38 participating WHOW yachts from his dock for the WHOW 2021 tournament. And, as the tournament wrapped up, once again, one by one, he personally greeted each yacht and her team, this time ever since. water, as he loaded alongside the over a mile yacht formation into the skiff of his boat, thanking everyone for their dedication and support.

“Seeing the smiles on all the faces of our veterans, I am just overwhelmed with emotion. What an incredible year, what an incredible event,” he shared in his speaker. The annual flyby of the fan-favorite event is said to be delayed due to stormy conditions, causing the teams to disperse, with nearly a third of the fleet lining up again, this time to bring their catch. tournament qualification to be weighed. the city of Avalon’s iconic green pleasure pier.

For the next three hours, tourists, Avalon residents, and WHOW veterans and crews laughed, clapped and celebrated as 12 yachts pulled 21 bluefin tuna from their holds, eight of which weighed over 200 pounds and the most. fat weighed 245 pounds. . Enthusiastic spectators shouted weight estimates as tournament director Rod Halperin manned stepped fish ladder.

“What an event,” he exclaimed. “Over two tonnes of fish, or over 4,000 pounds, ended up on the tournament qualifying weight score sheets. The teams ran and worked hard, and in the end we caught a lot of fish in this tournament. And, get a qualification and take a picture with the board and the team on that pier, well that’s the holy grail. “

The tournament’s “catch” included calico bass, rockfish, halibut, amberjack and dorado, as well as the star of the evening, bluefin tuna. And, while the catches were big, the smiles of the veterans were bigger. The following evening, at the event’s awards ceremony, there were shouts and cheers as the trophies were presented, but the star of the evening remained the stories and experiences that the veterans had collectively shared.

When he received the first of what would be five awards at the awards ceremony, Ret. Marine Corporal Larry draughn, a veteran who lost both legs during a deployment Afghanistan, choked as he shared his take on the event, “Meeting new veteran buddies and spending time on the water has been very beneficial to me. This tournament has allowed me to tick something off my list things to do: tie up and bring back a fish with my prostheses. I wanted to see if that was even possible. And it was. I was able to fight a fish standing on my prostheses and it was amazing. Thank you from the bottom of the heart. “

Later, as he returned to the podium to receive the evening’s highest honor, the Ron ashimine Award for Top Angler, Larry added, “I’m happy to have new siblings in arms and a new avenue if I fight, and I hope everyone here feels the same as me. tournament brought us together and allowed us to be in each other’s lives and fill a void. The outdoors saves lives, the outdoors saved my life, and there are many other veterans. struggling and if we can all save a life, it’s worth it. “

The Ron ashimine The award is particularly poignant because it bears the name of a Vietnam veteran and close friend of the tournament founder Anthony Hsieh. Together, Anthony and Ron had spent over 800 days at sea, fishing all over the world. Ron participated in the first WHOW tournament, held in 2018, but passed away in 2019.

Kaleb Weakley, participating in three tournaments and first (2019) Ron ashimine winner of the award, shared: “My first year in this tournament, I had the privilege of fishing with Ron (Ashimine). Ron was an inspiration, and chatting with Anthony during this year’s tournament, I shared stories Ron had told me about his time at Vietnam that Anthony had never heard. Ron and I were really connected, and for me, going ahead and taking Ron’s memory really means the world to me. It’s etched in my heart. “

While the event – and the awards ceremony itself – was epic, all attendees echoed a sentiment: This event provides a unique opportunity for veterans across the country to forge deep and authentic connections. with each other, as well as with the captains of the WHOW fleet. and crews, creating a lasting safety net and long-term support system. Against the calming backdrop of the Pacific Ocean, WHOW enables these veterans to forge new relationships, open up to each other, and bond around similar experiences and feelings, enabling much needed healing.

Noted Daniel McCarty, a retired USMC master sergeant, “The ocean is really where I find my sanity. It really is the only time I feel at peace, when I’m completely focused on what i do and at that point and try to get that next fish on the line. Everything i have to deal with in life when i’m back home, whatever worries i have, they are completely gone by then. “

Added Jason walker, who served six years in the Marines and six years in the Army, “Being able to get out into the wild, with my restrictions, is heartwarming.”

“It was one of the best experiences of my life,” said Alhahjie Fofana, a retiree naval staff sergeant. “I’m so happy for this opportunity. I haven’t served with my team members, but now that I’ve met them, we’re going to be friends for life.”

A total of 18 awards were presented at the awards ceremony, including species trophies, qualification points, weight points, overall points and the best boat. Winning species: Phillip T., Calico Bass; José C., redfish; James J., Halibut; Larry D., yellowtail flounder; Eduardo S., Dorado; Shane L., bluefin tuna. The main qualifying point winners were: James J., third place; Monty T., second place, and Larry D., first place. The main weight point winners were: Shane L., third place; Larry D., second place; and Anthony M., first place. Top boat honors went to: Showtime, third place; Ramble on Rose, second place; and Tenacious, first place. The Top Angler Awards went to: Anthony M., third place; Shane L., second place; and Larry D., first place.

Other honorable mentions included another first tournament, as one of the first all-female teams in the event, Vanessa Brown and Mea Peterson, came in sixth and seventh place respectively for total points, each catching a +100 lb bluefin tuna.

Noted Josh miles, Director of Military and Charity Programs for Freedom Alliance, “For all of our wounded veterans, just being here affects so many people around the world. All participants, donors and volunteers have made a difference. And , for all of our veterans, you made a difference to each other.

About War Heroes on Water

War Heroes on Water (WHOW) is an annual sport fishing tournament of unprecedented scale that supports programs for wounded veterans. It was created in 2018 by LoanDepot Founder and CEO Anthony Hsieh, who also owns and operates Team Bad Company, a world-class competitive sport fishing fleet holding records. Thanks to Hsieh’s deep ties to the Southern california sport fishing and business communities, WHOW has grown exponentially in four years and is now the largest non-profit sport fishing tournament in the United States. Learn more about WHOW at or follow WHOW on Facebook and Instagram.

About Freedom Alliance

Freedom Alliance is a charitable organization that provides aid and support to injured soldiers and military families. Freedom Alliance has awarded more than $ 18 million in college scholarships to children of military heroes killed or disabled during military service and spent millions more to help injured veterans and military families with outdoor recreational therapy trips, hero vacations , care packages for deployed troops, mortgage-free homes, all-terrain wheelchairs and much more. To learn more, visit or


Lori Wildrick

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