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Casting a line: Wounded soldiers enjoy outing at Lewis ponds

Cpl. William Tarrant is just one of America's unsung war heroes. He is among thousands of military troops who have returned to the states with war wounds from either Iraq or Afghanistan.

Recently, Cpl. Tarrant, who is from Dallas, Ga., got the opportunity, along with several other soldiers from Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center at nearby Fort Gordon, to experience a little relaxation and therapy, soaking a hook and catching fish. Instead of in a hospital environment for surgeries and rehabilitation, the soldiers relaxed at ponds owned by Charlie and Trudy Lewis of Thomson.

Cpl. Tarrant, a member of the U.S. Army's Special Operations teams, said the fishing outing was the best therapy he has received in months.

"It was awesome," Cpl. Tarrant told The McDuffie Mirror. "It's nice to feel appreciated."

During the daylong outing, Cpl. Tarrant caught a total of 13 bass - one of which was the biggest fish caught on the day - weighing 1.8 lbs. As a result of having caught the biggest fish, he was awarded $50 in prize money from Mr. Lewis, a local real estate appraiser.

The winner of the fishing tournament turned out to be U.S. Army E-4 Josh Hudspeth, of Clarksville, Ark. He caught 16 bass on the day and also received $50 prize money from Mr. Lewis. Finishing second with the most fish caught was U.S. Army Specialist Michael C. Chapman, who landed 15 bass. Spec. Chapman is from Franktown, Colorado.

"This is a lot of therapy for all of us," said Cpl. Tarrant, who was critically injured when he and four other soldiers were blown up on Feb. 13, 2007, in Iraq. "I never knew fishing could be this relaxing."

After the attack on the American soldiers by RGK-3 anti-tank artillery and RGP rocket propelled grenades, the four soldiers with Cpl. Tarrant, were as critically wounded as he was with one exception - he didn't realize it. The reason he didn't know was because he was too busy caring for his injured buddies.

"One of the men had his legs blown off at the knees and his wife had just given birth to their first baby a few weeks before," recalled Cpl. Tarrant. "I tied a tourniquet to his legs to keep him from bleeding. I couldn't just let him die. I wanted to make sure he saw his family again."

The same was true for the other three soldiers he helped, too.

"I can't begin to tell you what this fishing outing did to lift my spirits," said Cpl. Tarrant, who received brain and spinal injuries. "I didn't have any idea that I would catch 13 fish when I came out here."

Brian McMahan, a medic master sergeant stationed at Shaw Air Force Base, said, "I think this is a good outlet for them. It's very good therapy."

Sgt. McMahan accompanied Air Force medic Sgt. James Edison, a nephew of Mr. and Mrs. Lewis on the special fishing day.

The event was organized through Ft. Gordon by Tim Cox of Grovetown and Jerome Sessions.

"I think it's a great way to thank these soldiers for what they have done for our country and to show it to them in a southern hospitality way," said Mr. Sessions. "I think fishing was great stress management for them."

The Lewis couple said it was gratifying for them to see the soldiers having such an enjoyable time.

"It's just a good feeling inside to see these special people enjoying themselves so much," said Mr. Lewis.

His wife agreed.

"It's the most meaningful thing we've ever done," said Mrs. Lewis. "It was such a small thing to do to show them that we thank them for what they have done and what they mean to us."

Sgt. Larry Posey, a U.S. Army veteran of 13 years and a native of Mississippi, has been to the war-torn country of Iraq twice - the last time being injured on a military mission.

Now in the process of writing a book, entitled, Extended Summer Camp, Sgt. Posey compiled stories of the war in a journal that he kept while in Iraq.

Sgt. Posey, who used to enjoy playing basketball and football, currently is recovering from an ACL injury and said the fishing day was an experience he would never forget.

"It really means a lot to all of us as soldiers when people tell us and show us that they care about us," said Sgt. Posey. "All of us are most appreciative to people like Mr. and Mrs. Lewis who have helped us feel better."

While still involved in rehabilitation, Sgt. Posey is working as a freelance "Spotted" photographer for The Augusta Chronicle.



Web posted on Thursday, May 01, 2008













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