DESTIN — For the seventh year in a row, combat wounded and transitioning veteran were invited to spend Saturday fishing on the open waters.


The boats took off at 7 a.m on the Destin Harbor and returned in the late afternoon. The event, Soldiers on the Water, hosted by the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors, offered the opportunity for camaraderie and new friendships between fellow veterans.


The event started when Joe Morgan, veteran and coordinator of the event, and Chris Carter, wanted to create an activity catered to veterans and fishing. The first year there were 35 veterans at the event.


There were some mighty catches. One of the boats at sea had 105 fish.


“They’re all tiny, but 105 fish,” said Melinda Vazquez, an organizer for the event.


After a day of fishing, Brotula cooked their catches of the day. During the dinner was an awards ceremony for the biggest, smallest and most fish caught.


There were some mighty catches. One of the boats at sea had 105 fish.


“They’re all tiny, but 105 fish,” said Melinda Vazquez, an organizer for the event.


Morgan said one of the fishers in years prior came down from Carolina for the event.


“I had a great time. Camaraderie, we don’t get this much,” said Joseph Crowell, another fisher and ambassador for the connected warriors. Crowell drove about five hours from Huntsville, Alabama.


He gave an example of the camaraderie when two people who just met instantly bonded over sports. Someone started talking about Michigan.


The original event had to be rescheduled because of weather, so that affected the turn-out, according to Melinda Vazquez. But there were still 85 veterans in attendance, not including family and caregivers. In years prior, they had up to 125 veterans.


“This event is all about soldiers reconnecting, getting out doing something fun, challenging,” Vazquez said.