The history behind Walleyes for Warriors
Nels Larsen - Founder of Walleyes for Warriors
Avid Saginaw Bay walleye fisherman and Vietnam Veteran (1968-1970)
My name is Nels Larsen. I am an avid Saginaw Bay walleye
fisherman and a Vietnam veteran (1968-1970). The idea for Walleyes for Warriors came from a similar veteran's fishing event I was invited to attend in Manistee, Michigan called Tight Lines for Troops. It was such an emotional day for me, a "Welcome Home" experience many vets like me didn't get to experience when we returned home from war. I wanted to be able to have other vets experience the same thing. That's where the idea for Walleyes for Warriors began.
Knowing many boaters and walleye fisherman in this area and what good people they are, I thought they might stand behind this idea and help to make such an endeavor on this side of the state a success. A free recreational therapy event such as this is a small way for us to not only say "Welcome Home," but also "Thank You" for serving our country. It gives the veterans a way to connect with each other. I have been so blessed to be able to go out fishing over the years, but knowing that is not the case for many of our veterans, I saw this as a way to bring the thrill of walleye fishing in the Saginaw Bay to those who otherwise wouldn't be able to do so. The boaters, many who are veterans themselves, generously give of their boats, gas and time.
The response from the volunteers and donors has been remarkable. The experience has been as moving for them as it has been for the veterans who have attended! It started with wanting to offer to other veterans an experience similar to the one I had. It has grown to an event provided to our veterans by countless others, each giving of themselves in a special way. The total experience including fishing, prizes, food, camaraderie among the vets and a program that can be emotionally moving at times, provides a day like none other for many of these servicemen and women.