A fishing trip to honour his late dad
DAVE Gaden from Reel Time Fishing Charters threw open his boat to war veterans for the inaugural Bob Gaden Memorial Veterans Day on October 7.
The free deep sea fishing trip was in honour of his late father, who fought in the Korean War.
"Dad was a returned serviceman and he taught me how to fish," Mr Gaden said. "He loved his fishing, shooting and everything to do with the outdoors.
"I don't think returned servicemen in this country are treated with the respect they should be. The reason I get to live the way I live and do the things I do like take people fishing for a living is because of these guys."
Mr Gaden initially planned the trip to coincide with his father's birthday on September 25. But prevailing conditions forced a change of date and two weeks later eight former diggers came aboard to depart Yamba Marina just prior to sunrise at 6am.
"Dad passed away December year before last and he would've loved this idea," Mr Gaden said.
"Obviously they get together at the pub on Anzac Day, but that's a different environment when they're thinking about their lost mates and there's a million bullets fired. Whereas out here they can get together with a common interest of fishing and just have a bloody yarn."
Returned servicemen of all eras answered Gaden's call, from 95-year-old Don Campbell, who served in the air force in the Second World War, to Warren Fitzgerald, 41, a veteran of several tours to Iraq and Afghanistan.
"It's good to come out and socialise with guys from all the wars," Mr Fitzgerald said.
Mr Fitzgerald is a keen angler and a regular on Reel Time Charters excursions and comfortably led the day's tally which comprised mostly of flathead. However, most were novices simply out to share a yarn with like-minded blokes, such as Ian McKay, who was on board destroyer HMAS Voyager on the fateful night of February 10, 1964 when it collided with aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne, killing 82 of 314 on board.
Oyster Cove resident Ken Winters said his wife pointed out the story promoting the veterans day in the paper.
"She said it would be a really nice day and it's been bloody marvellous," Mr Winers said.
"What a great thing Dave's done. His dad would be very proud.
"In the company of veterans you don't have to be politically correct.
"They're men who've shared the same experience over a lot of years and can talk about things you can't talk about with civilians."