Operation R&R gives back to active duty members of the armed forces
ATHENS, Ala. – In an effort to show appreciation for the sacrifices members of the armed forces make every day, American Bass Anglers and Early Times Kentucky Whisky joined to create Operation Rod & Reel. Through this program, 80 active-duty service members from selected military installations will each receive fishing equipment and a free fishing trip to a local ABA bass tournament. There will be posters placed at military installations with instructions on how active duty personal can sign up.
“American Bass Anglers’ roots began in the military and we are proud to be a part of this program,” said Debra Talley, ABA national marketing director. “Because of this rich heritage with the military, all of our members are excited to be a part of the R & R program and have a chance to say ‘Thank You’ to those service members.”
“Early Times Kentucky Whisky also has a lot of rich heritage and strong tradition with the military,” said Joe Murray, Brand Manager for Early Times. “Many servicemen and women are already fans of Early Times and we want to give thanks back to the people who have supported our brand and who have served our country. Early Times has been committed to the sport of fishing for more than five years through our sponsorship with ABA and via our Early Times pros, Kevin Wirth, Kevin Rake, and Billy Appling. Through the launch of Operation R & R, Early Times is proud to bring these two passions together in a way that gives something back to our community and country.”
Any active duty service member 21 years old or older, regardless of rank or branch, may sign up on a first-come, first-served basis to participate in Operation R & R. Those who sign up will fish in either an American Fishing Tour or Bassmaster Weekend Series tournament, two competitive fishing trails run by ABA, at a place and date to be determined.
“Early Times Kentucky Whisky is proud to be involved with the Operation R & R program,” said Joe Murray, Early Times band manager. “Our active military members sacrifice so much for this country every day and this is a small token of our appreciation for everything they do. We hope a day on the lake will bring some relaxation into their lives.”
“We won’t have any special selection process, it is first come first serve,” said David Hagood, ABA vice president. “Any active duty military member can participate. All they have to do is follow the instructions call the number on Operation R&R posters placed at their installation. We want to give them a day on the lake that won’t cost them anything so they can just have fun on the water. The ones who have been overseas need some reintegration to normal life back in the states after what they went through, but it’s also open to those who haven’t gone overseas as well. There several companies that got involved and helped us get the fishing gear for this program like Gander Mountain and Yamamoto baits and we owe them a special thank you.”
In the tournament, the military member will fish with an experienced bass angler. The service angler will not pay any tournament entry fees, but could win cash and prizes. In addition, each service person who participates in the program will also receive a free membership to ABA and a tackle package worth about $300 from Gander Mountain, which includes rods, reels, lures and other tackle needed to fish a bass tournament.
“Gander Mountain is pleased to contribute the gear that will be used in the Operation R & R program,” said Bob Steckler, Gander Mountain vice president of hunting and fishing. “We appreciate the opportunity to help members of our active military enjoy fishing for a day and experience Gander Mountain’s ‘We Live Outdoors’ way of life.”
Building upon a long association with the U.S. Armed Forces, ABA began in 1975 as the Military Bass Anglers Association, an organization dedicated to providing bass anglers in the military an opportunity to compete in tournaments with other members of the military. In the 1990s, MBAA allowed non-military anglers to fish in its events. In 2000, Morris Sheehan, a life member who retired from the U.S. Army, bought MBAA, renamed it American Bass Anglers Inc., and relocated it to Athens, Ala.
Although the organization is open to both military and non-military anglers, ABA and its staff still maintain a strong loyalty to the country’s military and patriotic traditions. While ABA continues to run armed forces events, such as the annual Team Military Bass Tournament, today the organization offers more than 1,000 low-cost tournaments each year specifically designed for weekend anglers. So that anglers may participate in tournaments close to home, ABA holds events in 40 states each year, but also creates numerous opportunities for competitors to progress to more competitive events and fish in national championships.
Since its creation, ABA has run more fishing events for the military than any other national fishing organization. Over the years, more than 5,000 military personal enjoyed spending a day on the water through numerous ABA-affiliated events.
Active duty military members interested in participating in Operation R & R can call ABA the toll-free number on the posters. For more information about American Bass Anglers and its tournament trails, visit www.americanbassanglers.com.
Enjoyed in 28 countries around the world, Early Times Kentucky Whisky is used to make the Early Times Mint Julep, the “Official Drink of the Kentucky Derby.” Besides making Early Times, Brown-Forman Corporation produces and markets Jack Daniel’s, Southern Comfort, Finlandia Vodka, Tequila Herradura, el Jimador Tequila, Canadian Mist, Old Forester, Fetzer wines and Korbel California Champagnes. For more information on Early Times, visit www.earlytimes.com.
American Bass Anglers commitment is to provide low cost, close to home tournaments for the weekend angler and at the same time offer each competitor an upward path for individual angler progression. For more information about American Bass Anglers and the American Fishing Tour, The Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Weekend Series, The American 150 Series or the American Couples Series, visit www.americanbassanglers.com or call 888-203-6222