May 4, 2018 – West Point –
It is 1700 hours and we are walking along the path to Washington Hall, adjacent The Plain. We pass General Patton and head toward Ike when the bugle sounds retreat and a loud shot from a vintage canon is heard. Everyone stops, stands at attention and salutes as the colors are lowered from the double flag pole with the large gold ball on top. It brought back so many memories, love of country and the honor of doing service. We were all moved by the experience.
We continue to George Washington on his horse and seek an entrance to the massive building, most of which is under reconstruction. Washington Hall is the complex where the cadets eat. It seats 4000 diners, is divided into large wings, each holding a regiment of mixed lower and upper class students, soldier students that is, cadets of the United States Military Academy at West Point. It is impressive even when empty.
Our invitation to attend the annual banquet of the USMA Fly Fishing Club came about after the Long Island Fly Rodders, through the Project Healing Waters Program, hosted cadets and graduates of the USMA at Connetquot River State Park last Veteran’s Day. It was a mix of fishers, veterans, cadets and alumni. Before the day ended it was declared a success and announced that this will be an annual event going forward. So our friendship began.
The USMA Fly Fishing Club is a social activity which attracts several dozen participants of all ranks and genders. They organize fishing trips in the area as well as meet weekly to share their appreciation for the outdoors, fly fishing and each other. Connetquot was cited as the most productive of all the trips (combined) when it came to catching trout – but that is a given as we all know.
The Officer in Charge of the Club, LTC Ronald Hasz, spoke of its history and specifically of its founding member, Michael R. Adams, who gave his life in service to our country, and how his family has been a benefactor of the Club in his honor, striving to maintain what Mike started with such passion. A gentleman and long time friend of the Club by the name of Leigh Oliva spoke of the family’s service to the Club and the cadets.
Several cadets were identified as exemplars for the group. Two of them honored with newly initiated recognition: One award named in honor of Long Island’s own Gil Bergen. RG Giffen’s history book of the Connetquot, One Little River, will be purchased for the library and document the names of those recognized with the Gil Bergen Award beginning this year with Cadet Ian Greer.
The other award is in honor of founder Mike Adams and references the connection he made with the famed Pennsylvania fly fisher Charlie Meck. Meck’s 2005 book, Fishing Limestone Streams which is dedicated to 1LT Michael R. Adams, will be added to the library as well. In it the Club will record those honored with the Michael R. Adams Award which recognizes outstanding service. Cadet Chelsea Zerman who is the current Cadet in Charge will be the first name so listed. It was through the Club that she learned to fly fish.
New names will be added to each, as appropriate, going forward in recognition of their duty, dedication and selfless effort on behalf of the Club. Gil Bergen, we are sure, would be honored to be joined in this way with Michael Adams and these fine cadets. Congratulations to Cadets Ian Greer and Chelsea Zerman for your selection as the inaugural honorees.
The third cadet recognized, Cadet Jarrod Poston, recently led a group of 27 into the Neversink Gorge on a cold day with high water, all returning safe and further experienced in the art and wonder of fly fishing.
A former member of the Club, an officer and alumni who has returned to instruct, MAJ Jared Flurry, was the featured speaker and pointed out how once introduced to a river and a trout through fly fishing, one never looks at water the same way; you see and appreciate more than the uninitiated. MAJ Flurry closed his talk with the words of Robert Travers, to paraphrase: “It is not that fishing is so important but rather that so much else in life is less important.”
Leadership, initiative and an expanded world view all result from participation in the Club and the Long Island Fly Rodders are proud to be of service to these cadets who have dedicated themselves to serve our country. We wish them a long career and a good life as well as many tight lines.
Joseph Hutter, Roy Placet, Dr. Mike Postol and Tom McCoy represented the Long Island Fly Rodders.
For more on our Veteran’s Day fishing on the Connetquot click here.