- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 23, 2003

OK, so it’s not the same as going to Iraq or Afghanistan where things might get a little dicey, but you have to hand it to bass tournament fishing celebrities Roland Martin and Gary Yamamoto for thinking of our men and women in uniform.

The International Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, headquartered in Montgomery, Ala., says the two famous fishermen want to do their part for the war effort, so this week they travel to Germany to tour a number of military bases and visit soldiers recovering from wounds received while fighting in Iraq.

Martin, the all-time BASS tournament winner and nine-time Angler of the Year, and Yamamoto, a former Bass Masters Classic championship qualifier and world-renowned lure maker, will spend five days in Germany. They will be joined by two-time Women’s Bass Fishing Association champion Judy Wong and the Nashville-based World’s Greatest Fishing Band.

“A guy over there in the service got in touch with Gary, and said that many of the servicemen who had been wounded in Iraq and were in the hospital over there love fishing,” said Martin’s marketing director, Walt Reynolds. “He wanted to know if there was a chance that he could come over and visit some of the troops.”

Californian Yamamoto got in touch with Martin, who originally is from Laurel but now lives in Florida, and the two decided it was a grand idea.

Martin and Yamamoto both served in the military. Martin was a lieutenant in the Army from 1963 to ‘65. During the Vietnam War, Yamamoto was in the Air Force, stationed in Thailand.

“It’s the patriotic thing to do,” Martin said over a cell phone while moose hunting in Winnipeg. “I feel like it’s the least that I can do to support the troops.”

Added Yamamoto: “I’m glad to have the opportunity to do this. It will be exciting. I remember how much we enjoyed the USO troops that visited us in Thailand. We’re just fishermen, but we have some pretty good singers going with us, and we’re going to be able to put on a pretty good show, I think.”

Yamamoto will foot the entire bill for the trip.

About that turkey photo — Last Sunday’s column contained several photos, including one of two turkeys pecking away at a pickup truck bumper, ostensibly to remove squashed insects. The incident occurred in a fairly remote section of Allegany County’s Dan’s Mountain Wildlife Management Area in western Maryland. In our circle of hunters and fishermen it was believed that the pair were overly friendly wild turkeys.

But I checked with long-time turkey hunter Bob Rice, who said, “I carefully reviewed those turkeys in your photo. They are not [of] our eastern wild turkey stock. Their tail feather tips are much too light in color. If they are free-ranging feral birds, they should be destroyed on sight to protect the bloodlines of our wild stock. Our wild birds would be defenseless against any latent diseases they might carry.”

There you have it from a hunter who regularly visits western Maryland and who does very well fooling wild turkeys, which is not an easy task.

Way to go, REI — The recreational equipment and outfitter store chain REI has committed $10,000 to the Red Cross to aid in relief efforts from Hurricane Isabel. The Red Cross is operating or supporting more than 200 shelters for victims throughout the Middle Atlantic region. In Virginia and North Carolina alone, the Red Cross has provided food and shelter for at least 25,000 people.

REI operates 67 retail stores in 24 states. It has stores in Fairfax and Bailey’s Crossroads as well as Cary, N.C. Those businesses were not harmed by the storm.

REI was founded in 1938 as a consumer co-op by a group of Pacific Northwest mountaineers. It sells all of the top outdoor brands, including its own line of gear and apparel for hiking, camping, climbing, cycling, paddling and winter sports. Members pay a one-time $15 fee and receive a share in the company’s profits through an annual patronage refund based on their purchases.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday and Wednesday, and his Fishing Report every Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected].

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