Upstate group helps Vietnam vet make his last wish come true: one last trout

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The latest Spartanburg-based Veterans Patrol recently teamed up with North Carolina fly-fishing mainstays Davidson River Outfitters to make a veteran’s last wish come true: one last trout. Photojournalist Chip Baysden traveled to the mountains of western North Carolina to see that wish come true. Robert J. Houk has Parkinson’s disease and recently had heart surgery. Doctors told him in April that he would not live to see May. “They told me I wouldn’t go until dark,” Houk recalls. “I showed them! Houk joined the US Navy near the end of the Vietnam War and served on the USS New Jersey. In March 1972, Robert Houck left the Navy with an honorable discharge and came to rest in Hendersonville, North Carolina. This is where his love for fly fishing took root. With 25 years of experience as a fly fishing guide, David Richards has fished all over the world. When the last Veterans Patrol contacted him to see if Davidson River Outfitters would be interested in guiding a veteran to one last fish, Richards jumped at the chance. “The fish didn’t cooperate with us that day,” Richards said. “They don’t call it catching for a reason!” As time passed, Houk, sitting in a folding chair in the middle of the river, saw the indicator plunge below the surface. He quickly set the hook and a few minutes later a beautiful 18 inch rainbow trout was landed! After a quick photo op with Houk and Richards, the fish was released. The day was a triumphant success. Helping someone catch their first fish, or even their last fish, is equally satisfying for the guide. This day was different. “This day is going to stay with me for a very long time,” said Richards.

The latest Spartanburg-based Veterans Patrol recently teamed up with North Carolina fly-fishing mainstays Davidson River Outfitters to make a veteran’s last wish come true: one last trout.

WYFF News 4 Photojournalist Chip Baysden has traveled to the mountains of western North Carolina to see this wish come true.

Robert J. Houk has Parkinson’s disease and recently had heart surgery.

Doctors told him in April that he would not live to see May.

“They told me I wouldn’t go until dark,” Houk recalls. “I showed them!

Houk joined the US Navy near the end of the Vietnam War and served on the USS New Jersey. In March 1972, Robert Houck left the Navy with an honorable discharge and came to rest in Hendersonville, North Carolina.

This is where his love for fly fishing took root.

With 25 years of experience as a fly fishing guide, David Richards has fished all over the world.

When the last Veterans Patrol contacted him to see if Davidson River Outfitters would be interested in guiding a veteran to one last fish, Richards jumped at the chance.

“The fish didn’t cooperate with us that day,” Richards said. “They don’t call it catching for a reason!”

As time passed, Houk, sitting in a folding chair in the middle of the river, saw the indicator plunge below the surface.

He quickly set the hook and a few minutes later a beautiful 18 inch rainbow trout was landed! After a quick photo op with Houk and Richards, the fish was released.

The day was a triumphant success.

Helping someone catch their first fish, or even their last fish, is equally satisfying for the guide. This day was different.

“This day is going to stay with me for a very long time,” said Richards.


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