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Hooked on Heroes takes 187 veterans fishing in Steinhatchee – largest ever

Photo Above: Great catch! Mark Pervas-Army, Gene Arnold-Army and crew.  -Photo: Carolyn Cadle

By Tami Stevenson

Earlier this month Hooked on Heroes volunteers and veterans, gathered at the Sea Hag Marina in Steinhatchee for their second fishing trip of the year. They took 187 veterans fishing with 63 boats, the largest number to date. Everything was free to the veteran, including their fishing gear and lunch afterwards at the marina. Fishing was good and the weather was even better. Everyone enjoyed the day of camaraderie.
Hooked on Heroes Founder Ron Cadle said they had two veterans that came from as far as Miami, two from Tennessee and two from Port St. Lucie.

He said when he and wife, Carolyn arrived at the marina at 5 a.m. that morning to get things ready for the day, there were already some veterans there waiting on them, excited about the day of fishing.

The American Legion Post 57 Riders of Lake City, rode over to Steinhatchee for the event to present Hooked on Heroes with a check for $1,000.

Photo Above: The American Legion Post 57 Riders of Lake City presented Hooked on Heroes with a check for $1000 at the October 5 fishing event at the Sea Hag Marina in Steinhatchee.
-Photo: Submitted

Suwannee County Sheriff Sam St. John was also there with a volunteer crew that started early that morning getting lunch ready, cooking in the old fashioned 60 gallon sugar kettle, serving his well-known chicken and rice dinners. This time it wasn’t to raise money for a worthy cause, this time it was just to serve the veterans and volunteers that participated in the Hooked on Heroes event with a good wholesome, free lunch.
Sheriff St. John said volunteer Wendell Feagel does the cooking.

Sheriff St. John, along with volunteers from American Legion Post 291, of Steinhatchee, served everyone with a free lunch of chicken and rice. -SVT Photo by Tami Stevenson

“He has been doing it so many years. There is kind of a science to it (with the big 60 gallon kettle) and if you don’t know what you are doing, you will burn it all up,” St. John explained. “We have a lot of fun doing this. It is for a good cause,” he added.

Suw. Sheriff Sam St. John lifting the cover from the 60 gallon sugar kettle used to cook the rice. SVT Photo by Tami Stevenson

Veteran Robert Pipkins of Wellborn, brought his boat for the first time, “Miss Ellie” to take veterans fishing and commented,

“We miss the camaraderie of the military. They were more our family than anything else. So we come to a place like Hooked on Heroes and we feel right at home. It’s not like we have to make new friends. Your friends were here already. That’s the way the military is.” Robert, along with his wife, Ellen, are both retired Air Force. His brother, Veteran Bill Pipkins, came all the way from Tampa to be first mate on “Miss Ellie.”

Front: Veterans Dave Gross of Jasper, Back Row: L-R First Mate Bill Pipkins of Tampa, Denny Burkart of Jasper, Captain Robert Pipkins and Ellen Pipkins of Wellborn. The name of their boat is “Miss Ellie.”Bob Wade of Wellborn, not pictured, went out fishing with them as well. Their first time at the event, the Pipkins’ are looking forward to the next fishing trip in April. -SVT Photo by Tami Stevenson

Ellen didn’t go fishing, she stayed behind to help other volunteers get everything ready for their return.

She said, “This has been fabulous. I filled lunch bags, filled pitchers and tea glasses and all kinds of stuff. I stayed busy while they were out fishing.” She added they can’t wait to do this again in April.

Active Navy and member of the American Legion Riders Michael Ziegler, of Lake City, said,

“We came out to support Hooked on Heroes to take veterans fishing so they can just relax and enjoy the day. We, as an organization, love to help contribute to other veterans organizations because we understand what they do and it’s one of our core values, to support veterans and organizations that support veterans. We came out to Steinhatchee to see it first hand – remarkable!” He exclaimed.

“Everything went smooth, no problems, everyone got checked in, got everybody out and on the water on time,” said Ron Cadle. “It was the smoothest one we’ve had so far and the largest. Now we know we can take even more.”

The American Legion Riders from Post 57 in Lake City rode ever to present Hooked on Heroes with a check for $1000.
-SVT Photo by Tami Stevenson

Some military personnel from MacDill Air Force base in Tampa and the Army National Guard at Camp Blanding in Starke, may be able to attend the next event scheduled for April 4, 2020. The Cadles are thinking of having a competition to see who can catch the most fish where the winner would take home a Hooked on Heroes bucket as a trophy to keep until the next fishing trip and would be passed to the next winner and so forth.

Competition or not, veterans always enjoy the fishing and spending time with fellow veterans.

Anyone wanting to donate, or find out more about the non-profit organization or other ways to help their cause can call Ron Cadle at 386-364-9589, or visit their web page at, or find them on Facebook.

Veterans and volunteers enjoyed visiting after a good day of fishing in the gulf at the October 5 Hooked on Heroes fishing trip.
-SVT Photo by Tami Stevenson

Veteran James Thacker- Army, from Tifton, Ga.
-Photo by Kristin Skipper

Larry, Cecil and Tina Whitaker with Bill Totton, going fishing!
-Photo by Kristin Skipper