Walton Wounded Warrior hosts fishing retreat for fellow comrades

September 30, 2012

Wounded Warrior Scott Solomon shows off his catch. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Weekend getaway brings camaraderie and relaxation

After a two-year recovery from injuries suffered in Iraq, local outdoorsman Mark McDuffie was walking again. However, losing his comrades in a devastating roadside bomb attack, and 58 surgeries, deep emotional wounds are still on the mend.

McDuffie has been fishing the waterways of the Choctawhatchee River since he was a kid. After retiring from the Air Force, he decided to come back to something he knew well – fishing along Black Creek and the river’s waterways. McDuffie soon found solace dropping a line back into something familiar.

“Whenever I get stressed, I spend an hour on the water fishing,” McDuffie said.

It wasn’t long before McDuffie realized the value of that comfort, and started thinking about ways he could share his love of fishing with other wounded soldiers.

Mark McDuffie checks the weight on one of the tournament entries. All in good fun at the Wounded Warrior fishing retreat. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Soon the Wounded Warrior Fishing Retreat was spawned.

On Sept. 28 and 29, 2012 McDuffie hosted 10 Wounded Warriors and their families for a weekend retreat at Live Oak Landing Outdoor Destination in Freeport. With the help of great sponsors, the weekend was a huge success. Live Oak Landing donated accommodations for the families, Bass Pro Shops provided pontoon boat rides and tackle, Sysco provided food, Copeland’s Gun and Tackle Shop provided a Yeti cooler grand prize and Hub City Bassmasters provided bass boats and crew for each of the Warriors. A Friday night fish fry, tours of Black Creek and the Mitchell River, and a fishing tournament were just a few of the weekend’s highlights.

“We get injured as a family, we heal as a family,” McDuffie said.

For more information on Wounded Warrior Fishing, contact Mark McDuffie at (850) 499-8385, or go to the website at www.woundedwarriorfishing.net