(WBIR-Maryville) A group of disabled veterans and their spouses had a rare experience Wednesday morning near the Great Smoky Mountains. They were treated to a trout fishing expedition at Blackberry Farms.
"We're going to fish for a while. Hopefully a lot of fish are caught. More than that, hopefully a lot of good memories are made. Hopefully you learn something today," said Blackberry fishing guide Alex Quick.
Quick welcomed his special guests on this rainy morning. Each veteran was paired up with a Blackberry guide and a volunteer from Project Healing Waters.
"Fly fishing is what we enjoy doing. As volunteers, to share our favorite sport with people and get them interested in the sport is really fun for us and really rewarding," said Project Healing Waters coordinator Steve Thompson.
The guides enjoy getting these new fishermen on the fish.
"People come fly fishing to get away. That's why I go fly fishing even though this this is my every day. So to let these vets come out and get away for a morning. I think it makes perfect sense," said Quick
The 9 veterans of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan wasted no time setting the hook. They in turn were hooked on the sport.
"You know this is my first time I've ever been trout fishing and I love it," said Vietnam veteran Richard Manz .
The volunteers hope these waters truly bring some healing.
"Standing in the water. Being a part of the day, being a part of the experience is tremendous. The veterans like it because they forget about things for a while and it gives them an opportunity to really not focus on anything but the task of trying to hook up with a fish," said Thompson.
"It's therapeutic for us. One, getting out in the outdoors and also getting around other younger veterans." said Chad Rogers, who is a soldier planning to retire from the Army soon.
"The guys were great. We're even going to get fed," said Manz.
After the morning of fishing the group was treated to lunch.
Project Healing Waters is looking for more veterans who want to learn to fly fish. Click here to find out more.