Collaboration between anglers, area residents, an outdoors store and the Wounded Warrior Project will bring 24 veterans together for a three-day fishing venture on the St. Joe River.
North 40, a farm and outdoor store, in the northwest United States, will sponsor two fishing trips for wounded veterans this year. The first trip is July 16 to 18 and the second is August 13 to 15.
This is the second year they have sponsored such an event according to North 40 manager and St. Maries resident Brian Cravens.
“We were contacted by a representative from the Wounded Warrior Project last year, to organize a fishing trip, and it ended up being a really good thing. It is a great opportunity for us to give back to those who put their lives on the line and give us the freedom to farm and fish and hunt,” Mr. Cravens said.
According to Mr. Cravens the group of veterans, from Washington and Idaho, will fly fish various sections of the St. Joe River using twelve boats provided by anglers who have also agreed to act as guides.
North 40 fly-shop manager, Tyler Balich, reached out to Brian Jorgensen, owner of Medicine Man Pharmacy, to ask if the veterans could use his property. Mr. Jorgensen, whose father was a decorated WWII veteran, and Purple Heart recipient, did not hesitate to help.
“When Tyler told me, it was for [the Wounded Warriors Project] I said, ‘lock it in.’ We ought to do everything we can for these guys that make it possible for us to have our freedom to enjoy a place like this,” Mr. Jorgensen said.
According to Mr. Cravens, the trip organized last year required the veterans to travel to and from a hotel which proved taxing for some. The hope is that this years’ excursions will be simplified thanks to Mr. Jorgensen’s donation.
“… last year we did the Clark Fork—it was a one-day deal. They came out and stayed in hotel. It was taxing on some of the guys because of their injuries. So, this year we want to try and make it more comfortable for those guys and get a spot where they could camp. We’re lucky Mr. Jorgensen allowed us to use his site.”
Mr. Jorgensen owns approximately three acres of property on a picturesque meander of the St. Joe River along the Whitetail Flats Loop. Volunteers have arranged for campers, wall tents and meals for the veterans during the three-day trip.
Out on the property to prepare for the veterans arriving in a few weeks, Mr. Jorgensen erected a new flagpole and raised his father’s burial flag.
“My dad never talked about his experience much … He jumped into combat three times … He was at Bastogne … Of the 118 men he went in with six came home. For me, that’s where my desire to be involved comes from. We’re excited to have them come out here,” Mr. Jorgensen said.