A veteran’s wish to fish come true

A local military veteran and retired police officer get's his wish of a special fishing trip...
A local military veteran and retired police officer get's his wish of a special fishing trip granted.(Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission)
Published: Feb. 24, 2022 at 5:35 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A Florida community comes together to fulfill one man’s simple wish of to go on a fishing trip.

Cathy and Dennis Browning visited the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in hopes to learn just what licenses are required to go fishing. Her father, retired police officer and military veteran Ralph Kroeck is in hospice care and said he wanted to take one last fishing trip.

Law enforcement staff for FWC heard about the Kroeck’s wish and decided to make the trip special to him and his family. FWC Officer Brandon Ulrich took on the task of arranging the adventure.

“The family originally planned on taking Cathy’s dad out to the barge canal to fish but, because he’s confined to a wheelchair, we didn’t think that would be the best location,” Ulrich said. “I contacted a friend of mine, Gary Bartell Jr., the owner and fishing guide at Ozello Keys Marina. Gary offered to use his large airboat to host the trip for the family.”

When the family arrived to the marina, there were more surprises waiting on them. Members of the American Legion Post 66 from Homosassa were there to salute Kroeck and thank him for his service in the Air Force.

Cathy, her husband and their daughter Rebecca Machuca joined Kroeck for the fishing trip. FWC Offices Association gave Kroeck with a goodie.bag for the trip that had a T-shirt, FWC challenge coins, snacks and drinks, enough for the entire family.

“Gary and I took the family fishing out of Ozello Keys Marina,” Ulrich said. “They caught different species of fish including spotted seatrout, red drum and sheepshead. Upon returning to the dock, Jimmy Stoltz, the owner of Seafood Seller and Café in Crystal River, prepared lunch with the fish they had harvested.”

As the family ate lunch, Kroeck told stories about his past fishing trips and old war stories from his time in the military.

“This is the happiest I’ve seen my grandfather in a long time,” Rebecca said. “I simply don’t have the words to thank everyone enough.”

Copyright 2022 WCTV. All rights reserved.