Take a Veteran Fishing Day

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By Pam Teel

The 3rd annual take a Veteran Fishing Day took place in May at Lake Julianna in Millstone Township. Mr. Vito Cardinale, CEO/President Cardinale Enterprises LLC, hosted the “Play HOOK-e” Take a Veteran Fishing Day event to honor veterans. The concept for the fishing day was thought of several years ago by Mr. Cardinale and Don Marantz, Jersey Coast Anglers Association, knowing that veterans with PTSD and physical disabilities needed a calm outdoor setting to relax with other veterans. The two men worked together to contact friends, veteran organizations, and groups that support veterans. In just three years, the “Play HOOK-e” Fishing Day at Lake Julianna has grown to be a favorite outdoor event for veterans to attend and be honored.

This year’s event had over 100 attendees with volunteers from several counties in New Jersey. Veterans traveled from New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland to fish with a wartime buddy at Lake Julianna. There was a World War II combat veteran fishing next to Korean War veterans, both dropping lines to catch some nice size largemouth bass. Two veterans who met lakeside were from the same Parris Island Platoon 1051, serving in the Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV). They stated, “There are very few of us left.” The day was filled with many surprises. Veteran Joe Morrison’s wife stated that it made my heart sing to see her husband smiling and enjoying time with other veterans. There was plenty of fishing action for everyone to enjoy and volunteers taught fly-casting, spin-casting, and terminal tackle tips to catch that fish of a lifetime.

Due to the amount of interest, the Veteran Fishing Day has expanded to veterans helping special
needs children at Lake Julianna. This September, Mr. Cardinale will host the 3rd Annual “Kids Wish’n To Go Fish’n” Fun Day, where veterans become volunteers who will help children with special needs and disabilities fish at the lake. The original idea of fishing at Lake Julianna has really served as a time for commodore, for Vets and groups to relax while fishing and to enjoy the peaceful surroundings of Lake Julianna.

Veterans and guests are always welcome to sit and have a BBQ/Pizza lunch compliments of Vito Cardinale Family, Randy Johnson Family and Danny Black Family. Vito’s family and friends work hard to honor our veterans by preparing and serving food. Contributors for this year’s event has grown and included Jersey Coast Anglers Association, The Fisherman Magazine, East Gate Nursery, Bill- Jim Construction Co., SFC Enterprises, PDR designs LLC, Tom Zapcic Photography, Top Shelf Nursery, My 3 Sons HVAC, All Occasion Limousine, Sea Coast Chevrolet, Wood Fire Pizza/Blackie’s Welding Service and Laurita Winery.

Many organizations/businesses contributed and came out to volunteer and show support for our veterans; New Jersey State Federation of Sportsmen Clubs, Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Jersey Shore Chapter, Spring Lake Freezer, Bimbo Bakeries USA, The Reel Seat, Fisherman’s Den, Bagel Bistro, Captain Cals, Norma K III, Immediate Care, JB’s Diner, Tractor Supply, Chuck Phillips, Bogan’s Bait & Tackle, Gabriel Bait & Tackle CO., Jersey Hooker Outfitters, The Tin Man, Bill Marantz, Boating Education and Rescue, Howling Woods Farm dog/wolves, MA 22 Restore the Warrior, Central Jersey Rifle and Pistol Club Warrior Program, Jersey Shore Surfcasters, New Jersey Elks, Trout Unlimited, Newark Bait and Fly Casting Club, New Jersey Beach Buggy Association, Hoof Prints on the Heart, Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 12 and several other veterans organizations.