SHORTER, Ala. --
The America’s Heroes Enjoying Recreation Outdoors Foundation, or AHERO, founded by Capt. Lee Stuckey, executive officer of Recruiting Station Montgomery, Ala., hosted a fishing trip for wounded warriors, Sept. 16-18.
The trip served as a celebration and a showing of appreciation for veteran’s who’ve sustained injuries from combat in service to their country.
“This is the reason I put on my uniform every single day, to be able to do good for those who deserve it,” explained Stuckey.
The foundation got its start when Stuckey talked to a vendor who had a similar idea to help veterans at an event he attended. Stuckey realized right then he had the resources to start his own foundation and founded the organization in August of 2010.
In addition to Stuckey’s contributions, Master Sgt. Jeffery Mckenney, recruiting instructor for RS Montgomery, Joe Whatley, along with Gene, Nell and Carla Flournoy also helped in the founding of AHERO.
Coming together as a community, multiple volunteers offered up their homes and property for the weekend, providing billeting for veterans who traveled from as far as California in order to participate in AHERO’s fishing trip.
Just before daybreak, the wounded warriors boarded vessels owned by local members of the surrounding Alabama community and embarked on a day out on the water.
The purpose of this expedition was to show our nations veterans and those active-duty Marines who were wounded in combat that their contributions to their nation hasn’t gone unnoticed, and people really do care about their well being.
During the outing, Lance Cpl. Stephen Ayhens, a native of Ozark, Ala., was afforded the opportunity to visit his home state for the first time since he was injured in Afghanistan, June 21, 2011. In appreciation for his contributions and sacrifice, the local community made some improvements to his mother’s home, and built a wheelchair ramp for him to get around on.
“It was awesome to see that people cared, I can’t think of a way to show how grateful I am,” said Ayhens, whose fishing haul included one fish, and 10 sticks.
Although the fish weren’t biting, they still found a way to jump into Ayhens’ boat.
“We opened up the well where we held our catches and a fish jumped out onto the boat,” said Ayhens. “As it flopped around the boat we all yelped as we tried to get a handle on him, it was really funny.”
The evening continued with a fish fry from the day’s spoils. Veterans from previous wars were also in attendance sharing their experiences with current troops.
The evening drew to a close with a presentation of awards for both participants and volunteers.
“Every person contributed what they could and made the entire event possible,” said Stuckey. “Whether spreading the word on Facebook, setting up tables or taking out trash, every person gave what they could and asked for nothing in return.”
Volunteers for the event were just pleased to have been a part of a worthy cause.
“These [veterans] have sacrificed more than most people can comprehend,” said Stephen Bass, a professional mixed martial artist who offered his time for the event.
“If my involvement brightened one person’s day then that’s what I need to do.”
Although the veteran’s set out to catch fish that day, the abundance of the bounty they received was in the form of smiles and admiration from the local community, fellow warriors and the AHERO foundation.
Through the efforts of everyone involved, the trip was a great success and enjoyed by all.