News: Soldier combines love for fishing, Army; support program to share both passions
Story by Staff Sgt. Meillettis Patton
FORT POLK, La. – When faced with the choice between two passions Maj. Michael Rasco, logistic officer for Headquarter Headquarters Company, 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, chose to combine his passion for fishing with his love for the Army.
Its important to take two things that I love and that are near and dear to my heart and put them together, said Rasco. One is the Army and what its done for me and what I’m doing for it (Army) and two the enjoyment of fishing and the outdoors.
“I’m [an] aspiring tournament bass fisherman,” said Rasco.
Rasco grew up in Central, Ala., and was introduced to fishing by his father around the ago of 3. Fishing has always been apart of his relationship with his father.
“He was the first person to introduce me to fishing. I grow up with the mind set that, if you’re doing something constructive there is a good chance your not doing something destructive.”
He continues the legacy instilled in him by his father and passes it to others through organizations like Fishing for Freedom.
If I can give a soldier an opportunity to the outdoors and show them my passion and my love for fishing, I feel like I’ve given them an opportunity to share something with their children or friends.
“Determined,” said Sgt. 1st Class Ross D. Frey, of HHC 4th Battalion, 353rd, 162 Infantry Brigade. “Very determined is the word that easily describes Mike [Rasco]."
I think this is a great resource we have in the U.S. and with any great resource it takes education and understanding to keep that resource. I thrive on the opportunity to teach soldiers about fishing or help them become better fishermen, said Rasco.
It's not everyday soldiers have a chance to help other soldiers and participate in activities they love off-duty.
Once a year around October, Maj. Racso volunteers his time to Fishing for Freedom a planning committee he was on in 2011 while stationed at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
He was a member of Fishing for Freedom; the objective is to give a day back to soldiers. This year the Freedom Tournament is slated for Oct. 5-8 and six soldiers from Fort Polk, Warrior Transition Unit will attend the tournament in Warsaw, Mo., at Harry S. Truman Reservoir.
“A bad day fishing is better then a good day a work,” said Sgt. Tommy Wyatt, a soldier in the WTU on Fort Polk.
This is my first time attending Fishing for Freedom, said Wyatt. It’s good to have people that will give up time and their weekends away from family to meet our needs and help us have some enjoyment.
Anytime you have volunteers that are willing to help out soldiers and appreciate you, it’s a pretty good feeling, said Wyatt.
Fishing for Freedom is a nonprofit organization. They invite soldiers from all over the U.S. to a weekend of fishing. The Organization and sponsors provided soldiers meals, hotels, fishing rod and reel combo and the unit usually provides transportation.
“I have been a volunteer boater for three years,” said Rasco.
“I was a wounded warrior before,” said Frey. “I was wounded in combat.”
This is my chance to give back to wounded warriors. I’m going as a volunteer boater this year, said Frey. “It’s a great chance to give back to wounded warriors for me.”
This is an opportunity for me to provide time to a soldier, that may have had a different path, said Rasco. You get to know a lot about a person in a day of fishing. Whether it’s a combat veteran or a person with injuries, it’s a time to talk, learn from one another, and share my love for the Army and fishing.
With fishing you can get a peace of mind and get a way from the reality of Army stuff or combat experience, said Spc. LeCora Jones. I love meeting new people, traveling, and getting on the boat and going out in the water, it’s different.
“My dad loved to fish and I’m a daddy’s girl,” said Jones. “ Wherever he went I went and he taught me how to fish, that where my passion came from.
The volunteers are awesome, I appreciate the love and support from them and everyone that tries to help soldiers, said Jones.
Fishing for Freedom only happens once a year, said Rasco, I would like to take the energy from fishing for freedom and bring it closer to home.
“We here at Fort Polk are surrounded by two of the best fishing resources,” said Rasco, “Toledo bend and Sam Raber, we have the opportunity to do something like this around here, one of my personal goals is to attain interest and potentially putting on a tournament here local."
When I retire from the military, my intent is to travel around the United States entering fishing and bass tournaments, said Rasco.
This work, Soldier combines love for fishing, Army; support program to share both passions, by SFC Meillettis Patton, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.