Jun 6, 2014 | By: Lakeland PBS

Trolling the troops on the Mississippi


Camp Ripley is normally where soldiers train. But today it was where they casted their lines out with disabled veterans. This is the 4th year of the Camp Ripley Trolling for Troops event. And it gives soldiers a chance to tell stories and connect with veterans, who share similar experiences.
Randy Tesdahl, an American Legion adjutant, says, “I feel it’s important to give back. For those of us that served in different eras and different times, to be able to come back and give to those who are currently serving as well as our fellow veterans and see them come together and share those stories, that’s important.”
Some of the stories are about remembering past Trolling for Troops fishing trips,
Cold War veteran, Dave Munsinger, says, “Four times now; once in Mille Lacs and three here. All good basically, so no sweat there at all.”
While other stories are about battles in enemy waters. Swed Anderson, Korean War navy veteran, retells when his boat hit a mine off the shores of North Korea.
Anderson says, “It was so dark it was hard to tell what happened. But it sunk in just a few minutes. I bailed out but the water was up to about my knees. We were trying to get a life raft off but the salt water releases were frozen or rusted, so we just had to bail out.”
However on the 70th anniversary of D-Day the soldiers and veterans remembered why they’re able to go fishing.
Maj. John Donovan, Camp Ripley visitor bureau chief, says, “We lost a lot of American lives that day. Because of the fruits of their labor we’re able to enjoy what we have today this beautiful fun-filled sun-filled day fishing on the Mississippi.
While today’s about soldiers and veterans connecting with each other and telling stories, there’s still fish to be caught at Campy Ripley.
Vietnam corporal and professional fisherman, Dave Genz, says, “Coming here is an opportunity to share my part of world the river world with special people who you know have protected us so that we can do this. And I just enjoy coming to the river and catching fish.”
36 professional anglers each guided a recently deployed soldier with a disabled veteran on the Mississippi River or Mille Lacs Lake. Scott Sheahen Lakeland News

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