Getting Wounded Warriors Outdoors

My name is Loyd Sawyer. I carry wounded, ill and injured service members and their families fishing free of charge. I believe it is very helpful in the healing process to get people back outdoors. It can be very difficult finding enjoyment in anything while you are recovering from a serious injury. I am a Wounded Warrior and 100% Disabled Veteran. I was injured in Iraq in 2007. In 2008 I was introduced to trophy catfishing on the James River while recovering in the WTU at FT Lee. I was medically retired a few months later. My first year out of the Army was spent seeking treatment for major depression, PTSD and other service related physical injuries. I spent the majority of my time in my basement working on small projects. I did it to stay away from a world that I didn't feel like I fit in anymore. At the time I didn't realize I was just surviving. Thanks to my wife and a couple other veterans who had been there and done that, I learned to live again. They got me out of the basement and back into the real world. My first challenge was issued by my fellow veterans. I was to find something I used to enjoy and learn to get enjoyment out of doing it again. Growing up in a commercial fishing community I learned to love and respect the water at a very young age. In 2009 I purchased an old Harkers Island Skiff to restore. It is a fiberglass copy of the work boats built for the Core Sound around 1900. The cost of the rebuild was kept to a minimum by doing all the work myself, including the rebuild of the motor. It took me a year to complete the rebuild. I made a lot of friends in my community during the rebuild. I would answer questions from neighbors on a daily basis about the progress of the rebuild. Before I could launch the boat I had to come up with a name for it. I decided on the name " Therapy". I began carrying some of the people who had asked questions fishing with me. Some of them have become close friends. I joined the Old Dominion Catfish Club and became a very active member. I also began to carry veterans that I met at the VA hospital in Richmond fishing. My only problem was getting wheel chairs safely in and out of the boat. I needed a pontoon boat but with my limited income I could not afford to go out and buy another boat. Over the next two years I saved and looked for a suitable pontoon to modify for a wheelchair ramp. I finally found one with a trailer I could afford. I spent the next couple months stripping the deck and making repairs. It didn't come with a motor so that was next on the list. I had a close friend donate a lawnmower engine and another donate an outboard lower unit. I put the two together and made a 16.5hp air cooled outboard. I later found that there were major issues with the pontoons. I was forced to purchase another pontoon boat for the parts I needed. A few more months of work and I got it all put together. I named this boat "PIER MENTOR". With no test time I launched the pontoon to compete in an ODCC catfish tournament with a four person veteran team. We covered about 20 miles of water that night. We caught two trophy fish that night but we were disqualified for being two minutes late for weigh in. I can't complain I helped write the rules for the tournament. The air cooled outboard proved to be a little too slow for tournament fishing. I saved up some money and purchased a 40hp Johnson Outboard that appeared to be in good shape. It has proven to be a real pain. It runs but refuses to idle well. I have added a couple dents to the pontoons due to this issue. I take Wounded Warriors fishing free of charge. I have been doing this out of my own pocket for the past three years. I currently have invested all the money I can into this project. VA disability compensation and Social Security are my only source of income. Taking out a loan is not a good idea for my family now. Please help me replace the motor on my pontoon boat so I can continue to carry Disabled Veterans fishing.Thanks,
Loyd T. Sawyer SGT US ARMY RET

Donations

  • Greg Aron 
    • $100 
    • 75 mos
  • Anonymous  
    • $1,000 (Offline)
    • 75 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $1,000 
    • 75 mos
  • Michael Goss 
    • $20 
    • 75 mos
  • Candee Speirs 
    • $150 
    • 76 mos
See all

Organizer

Loyd Sawyer 
Organizer
Colonial Heights, VA
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