This week 12 veterans are taking part in what organizers hope will become an annual fishing tournament similar to the 

The event, sponsored by volunteers from the Grove VFW Post 8380, starts at 6 p.m., Wednesday, July 11 with a welcome dinner and orientation, followed by two days of fishing on Thursday and Friday, based out of Wolf Creek Park.

“The event is designed to have fun and honor our vets,” said Robert 'Doc' Hopper from the VFW.

The VFW is an organization founded to help veterans. The local chapter meets a few miles south of Honey Creek Bridge in the lodge located on Highway 10/59.

“We help vets with electric and gas bills among other things,” said Lyle Hensley. “The idea behind this year’s event is to pair 12 veterans up with 12 professional anglers.”

Boats will hit the water at 6 a.m. each morning and will return by 11 a.m..

Thursday afternoon will include a fun day for the veterans in attendance and their family at Dr. Doug Cox's home at Governor's Retreat.

The event will conclude with a banquet on Friday night with guest speakers such as Bob Eads from the Paralyzed Veterans Association. Rep. Josh West (R-Grove), himself a veteran, is also slated to address the group.

The tournament will feature numorous professional anglers many who are traveling from out of state to help.

Anglers are allowed to bring in a total of three fish for the weigh-in. The final weigh-in and awards ceremony will take place on Friday. 

The veterans range in age from those serving in Vietnam to the Global War on Terror. Organizers say the event will be open each year for any honorably discharged veteran, deployed or not.

Funded mainly by the VFW, the group also took a number of donations and have a few local sponsors but are still looking for addition help in funding the event.

The idea for this event, Hopper said, came after he attended the Mid-America Paralyzed Veterans of America Black Powder Hunt hosted and organized by the River Bottom Sportsmen.

Guests will be fed three meals each day and their lodging will be payed for while they are in attendance plus they are allowed one guest for the event.

The VFW has historically been a member only group, but has since adjusted its policy to say the public is welcome. Members must still qualify to join.

“Younger veterans are needed to keep the VFW alive,” said Hensley. “There is a bar but that’s not why we are here.”

The VFW members also do a lot of work to help with the Disabled Veterans Relief Fund. 

For more information, or to help provide funds for the tournament, persons interested may contact Hopper or other VFW officials at 918-786-2375.

First Anglers

The veterans taking part in the first VFW Post 8380 Fishing Tournament include: 

Brandon Jones - US Army Infantry, Pryor

Chrishelle Kaufman - USAF Medic, Grove

Don Akins - USAF Security, Anderson, Missouri

Chad Akins - US Army Artillery, Anderson

Karen Dawani - US Army Infantry, Cape Fair, Missouri

Rhonda Akens - US Army Medical, Eucha

Jarred Leach - US Army, Grove

David Hopper - US Army Green Beret, Allenhurst North Carolina

Derek Bingham - US Army, Eucha

Andy Beaham - USN, Grove

Grover Duffield -  USMC Electronics, Grove

Jerry Brownsfield - US Army, Grove

Grove VFW Post 8380 Fishing Tournament Schedule of Events

Wednesday, July 11

- Participants arrive, check into lodging.

- 6 p.m. - Orientation/Dinner at Grove VFW.

Dinner provided by the VFW Auxiliary.

Thursday, July 12

- 4:45 a.m. - Breakfast at the Pit Stop

- 5:30 a.m. - Arrive at Wolf Creek Park

- 6 a.m. - Boats leave Wolf Creek

- 11 a.m. to Noon - Weigh-in at Wolf Creek

- Noon to 6 p.m. - Food/Fun at Dr. Doug Cox residence

Friday, July 13

- 4:45 a.m. - Breakfast at the Pit Stop

- 5:30 a.m. - Arrive at Wolf Creek Park

- 6 a.m. - Boats leave Wolf Creek

- 11 a.m. to Noon - Weigh-in at Wolf Creek

- 1 p.m. - Participants escorted to VFW Post 8380

Participants and guides meet friends, family and community representatives

- 2:30 p.m. - Free time

- 6 p.m. - Banquet

Pro Anglers

Pro anglers taking part in the Grove VFW Post 8380 Fishing Tournament include: 

Jeff Steenbergen

Billy Richardson

Bill Hudson

Sheldon Collings

Mark Collings

David DuBois

Rod Chowning

Jessi Esparza

Cameron Pappan

Michael Stephens

John Myers

Don Dreiling