In the Fall of 2012, Iowa-born Cory Thomas, 17-year National Guard veteran of Afghanistan and Kosovo, participated in our workshop at Fort Carson, CO. In treatment at Fort Carson’s Warrior Transition Battalion for a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) and various other injuries, he collaborated with another soldier on what turned out to be a great film, and we struck up a friendship. I soon learned Cory was involved in ProjectHealingWaters.org, a wonderful NGO which mentors veterans using flyfishing, fly-tying and rodbuilding as therapeutic activities. Well, in addition to becoming a great fly fisherman, Cory also learned to tie flies and even make flyrods, no easy thing.
Recently, he made a flyrod for me which featured a handwoven insignia from the Blackhorse Regiment, which my late, great dad, MG George S. Patton, commanded in Viet Nam. The trim is cavalry yellow and it even has the regimental motto “Allons” – French for “Let’s go” – etched on the side. Believe me, this wasn’t made in a weekend – it took dozens of hours and is just gorgeous. When Cory finished the rod this Spring, I finally, got a chance to try it out on the Beaverkill River near Roscoe, NY… It’s a supple 5 wt 8’6″ stick with great action and, here’s the best part: It works! (See below.) I caught several browns and rainbows on it this summer.
No doubt, there are a lot of ways a veteran can find peace post-deployment. Flyfishing, filmmaking, and lots of things in between. I am just delighted that Cory has chosen both and that we remain good friends. If you ever need the perfect custom-made rod for that perfect blend of nostalgia, beauty and performance, Cory is your man. And please take a few minutes to check out and support Project Healing Waters. It’s a worthy outfit doing unique and valuable work.
It is an honor to work with and know patriots like Cory, who despite having his share of struggles transitioning from the mountains of Afghanistan to the American countryside, continues to find his “new norm” and inspire veterans everywhere with his positive attitude. For a civilian like me, it is a distinct honor to have him consider me a friend. Thank you, Cory. Let’s go fishing soon.