Vietnam vet calls Tight Lines for Troops best day of his life

May 19, 2013

 

Veterans ride through the Manistee channel. Photo by Miranda Beebe.

Veterans ride through the Manistee channel. Photo by Miranda Beebe.

 

Phil Keilman with the winning king he caught.

Phil Keilman with the winning king he caught.

 MANISTEE – The fourth annual Tight Lines for Troops was held Saturday. The Lake Michigan fishing event is held free of charge for veterans with disabilities. Almost 300 veterans participated with 60 boats, said Phil Keilman, a retired Army master sergeant and event participant.

 

The winning group.

The winning group.

The absolute best part of the trip was the parade of boats with veterans riding in them. The parade went down the channel with both banks crowded with folks waving flags and thanking all of the vets as we passed.

 

Spectators hold American flags. Photo by Miranda Beebe.

Spectators hold American flags. Photo by Miranda Beebe.

“We returned to port at noon and all proceeded down the channel back to Seng’s Marina to weigh our fish and carry on with the rest of our afternoon activities and a celebration.

“I am a retired Army combat Vietnam veteran who got spit on in O’Hare Airport when I returned home in 1968 and this was finally my welcome home after 45 years. It was very emotional but the best day of my life.”

 

Boats come up the Manistee channel. Photo by Miranda Beebe.

Boats come up the Manistee channel. Photo by Miranda Beebe.

Keilman said he and vets Russ Papke, active duty National Guard with two tours in Iraq and Tom Unk, a Vietnam vet, rode the boat Pier Pressue with Capt. Mark Chmura and First Mate Gage Saunders.

 

The Maple Street bridge opens for boats as they pass through. Photo by Miranda Beebe.

The Maple Street bridge opens for boats as they pass through. Photo by Miranda Beebe.

“It is the best boat in the fleet, proven by the fact that we won the day. We caught eight out of 10 with me catching the biggest fish out of 60 boats, a 22.7 pound king salmon. Each member of our team received a beautiful crystal engraved first place plaque, a certificate of achievement signed by 101st District State Representative Ray Franz and pictures of our group. I also received a Bulova watch from Michael Agnello Jewelers and my fish will be professional mounted by Riverside Taxidermy.

 More on Tight Lines for Troops here.  

 

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