Originally scheduled in late June, the trip Monday, Sept. 10, included 22 veterans, mostly from the Veterans Home in Silver Bay, embarked on Lake Superior to see how many fish they could bring back for the shore lunch.
For just the second time in the event’s 27-year history, the fishing trip had to be rescheduled because of bad weather in June.
As soon as the news of the postponement was announced, charter boat captains started working out a new date for the veterans to come to Knife River.
As Tim Kippola ‘s boat, Mistress, left the marina, it was met with the Lake Superior’s rolling waves and made standing in the boat a challenge for even the most seasoned of sea legs.
Veterans Bud Hamilton and Ricky Wyatt rode the waves, and it wasn’t long before Mark Bruzek, a volunteer helping Kippola, saw the tell-tale movement of the rod showing a nibble.
Hamilton reeled in the day’s first catch. A little later, Wyatt reeled in an even bigger lake trout.
Bruzek, an industrial arts teacher at Isle High School near Mille Lacs Lake, reset hooks and Kippola took some time to chat with Hamilton about his time in the service.
All charter boats for the day were donated, but Kippola had a special reason for donating his services for the past 15 years. His son was a U.S. Navy veteran who served in Iraq, and his father was stationed at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked, causing the entry of the U.S. into World War II.
“It gives something back to vets,” Kippola said. “And it’s something I really enjoy doing.”
Event coordinator Ward Wallin said more than 40 staff Veterans Home employees and volunteers were at the marina, in addition to those in Silver Bay who were helping residents prepare for the event, but all the work is worth it to watch them return from their adventure on the lake.
“It’s watching the smiles on their faces,” Wallin said. “There was a guy who came in earlier whose stomach was a little rumbly and he said he wouldn’t trade it for the world - they just love it.”
“It was fun,” Wyatt said as he finished his lunch. “It’s something nice to do. It’s sure better than sitting in the home.”