View Full Version : Going fishing...

09-15-2007, 04:19 AM
Many of us know of the work that the Wounded Warrior Project (http://woundedwarriorproject.org) is doing.

I just became aware of an interesting spin on it, by an upstanding young man I knew several years ago. I still keep in touch with his father, a great American, and got the core intel here from him. With Johnís permission and a little extra info, hereís the rest of it.

John is an avid outdoorsman and American, working with his local community to raise money to take wounded vets on a fishing trip on the Rogue River. Below is an article that was provided from the local paper, the Daily Courier (http://www.thedailycourier.com/).

John is working in coordination with the Wounded Warrior Project. To donate directly to this trip, mail a check to John Chmelir, PO Box 1402, Grants Pass, OR 97528. You can reach him at warriorfish07@gmail.com (warriorfish07@gmail.com). John vouches that he will launder the money through the Wounded Warrior Project, provide your tax receipts, and spend it on the trip. Though the whole thing might sound a little fishy (ouch :p), Iíll vouch for John.

By Shaun Hall
of the Daily Courier
A local man is trying to raise $12,000 to send a dozen wounded servicemen down the Rogue River in November on a four-day guided fishing trip.

Local builder John Chmelir said he already has raised about $4,500 ó and he's only been at it a few weeks. He's also been promised a discount on the cost of the Nov. 3 trip from Briggs Guide Service. The vets-turned-fishermen will stay in lodges along the river.

Chmelir (pronounced ka-mel-ir) is a former helicopter crew chief and machine gunner who served 17 years in the Army National Guard. He is a former social studies teacher who now is in business with his brother, Bill, and father, John, building homes in Grants Pass.

He is organizing the outing in conjunction with the Wounded Warrior Project, an organization that assists wounded veterans. The project will choose the vets to go on the fishing trip.

"I'm really sympathetic to their cause," Chmelir said last week. "After getting out of the military, I miss the feeling of serving a higher purpose. Donating is one way."
Chmelir, 37, discovered Wounded Warrior when he came upon one of the group's window stickers at a Medford sporting goods outlet. He donated to the group, but didn't get more involved until he got an e-mail from the project soliciting donations for an Alaskan fishing trip.

"I said, 'Hey, we have fish here,'" Chmelir recalled.

Some of the vets served by the project are amputees, but they don't quit life.
"There are people pretty motivated to get out and do stuff and not be limited by what they suffered," Chmelir said.

One of Chmelir's friends, Bill Inkrote, is a river guide who referred Chmelir to guide service owner Bret Clark. Clark, who also owns Rogue River Boat Shop on Bridge Street, expects a nice trip.

"It's something we can do to support our wounded troops," Clark said.
Ryan Pavlu, director of outdoor programs for the Wounded Warrior Project, endorsed Chmelir's efforts.

"He's doing great stuff, raising public awareness about Wounded Warrior," Pavlu said in a telephone interview from Houston.

Chmelir's father is a member of Rotary, and some Rotarians have donated toward the trip. One Rotary member who is helping is former county Commissioner Fred Borngasser, who also has been seeking donations around the state through the Military Officers Association of America.

"It's a worthwhile project," Borngasser said.

Chmelir's father, grandfather and brother have served in the military. His grandfather ó also John ó was a flight engineer on B-24s in World War II. He now lives locally at Horizon Village retirement community. Chmelir's father is a retired engineering officer who worked on the Lost Creek Lake and Applegate Lake dams for the Army Corps of Engineers.

The Chmelir family lived in Ashland in the late 1970s, before moving to Colorado in the mid-1980s. About 25 years ago, the family was ready to build the Meadow Wood subdivision on the city's far southeast side, but property values were low then, and building began only about seven years ago.

Chmelir got his teaching license in Colorado nine years ago, and began teaching in an alternative school in remote Galena, Alaska, the next year. He opted for a career in local home building four years ago, joining John Chmelir's Sons LLC. His wife, Nikki, also is a teacher who is currently working on a master's degree.

In 2003, Chmelir went with his National Guard unit to Kosovo, where he said their stint was "mercifully boring."

Last year, Chmelir chose not to re-enlist. It was too tough to help run a business and be a soldier. He now is a project manager with the business, and his office is on the upper floor of his parent's Fruitdale-area home, on Southeast Elderberry Lane, overlooking the city.

Chmelir is out of the Army, but he hasn't forgotten his former brothers and sisters in arms.

"I'm trying to put something together for those who have done more than I," he said. "Those who have made a sacrifice."

09-17-2007, 12:55 PM
Some cheeful news is always good to see. I seem to recall somewhere in a VFW magazine about an antelope hunt with some Vets in wheel chairs. There remains too much misconception that amputees and other disabled people are no longer able to work. They are excluded from certain occupations is all, nothing more. I know a Quad who has full range of neck/head motion and wrist hand movement only and he drives a van and earns more than 50K a year on his job.