Heroes on the Hardwater

Warriors Never Give Up (WNGU) kicked off our 2017 mission of changing the lives of our nation’s heroes through our outdoor adventures in February by hosting our first-ever ice fishing event south of Bristol, SD. “Heroes on the Hardwater” is the brainchild of professional walleye angler and WNGU board member, Dan Geiken. Dan’s passion for the outdoors uniquely aligns with our vision of giving back to our nations heroes and his enthusiasm has spread like a wild fire within the community of professional walleye anglers and guides.

The simple idea of giving back to those who have sacrificed so much and the generosity of time given to us by our passionate partners and volunteers makes our events special, rewarding, and life-changing. This amazing God inspired event was courtesy of land owner, Robert Duerre, who knows the sacrifices our nation’s heroes have made, as he proudly served during the Vietnam War.

“Heroes on the Hardwater” began the day before as our volunteer guides pre-fished Duerre slough south of Bristol, SD in hopes of finding a honey hole that would put our hero participants right on top of the fish. After punching several holes, fishing, and scanning our private oasis for that perfect spot, most of the volunteer guides settled on a small piece of property south of the slough. Houses were set up for our heroes, who would arrive the following day.

Sharing a common bond for the outdoors and its natural affinity for healing, our 10 combat Vietnam veterans and one Gold-Star brother of a Vietnam hero along with our volunteer guides departed for the ice in a caravan of excitement, past a sea of American flags as co-founder Brett Bastian saluted our heroes in honor and appreciation. Each beautiful flag, powered by freedom, and the early winter breeze, waved in harmony as our “hero” fisherman and guides settled in for a memorable day. With our veterans comfortably in their ice shacks waiting for the next strike, board members, Dan Geiken and Troy Fox, started the BBQ tantalizing those close by. The others remained in their shacks tending their lines, as they enjoyed delivery service of hot, off the grill lunches. The afternoon hour was filled with conversations and friendly fishing competition, with plenty of fish being caught by all. As the sunset drew near, Dan Geiken, Troy Fox, and some of the volunteers cleaned fish as our nations heroes gathered around to share fish tales for the day and the common bonds that unite them. As the group departed for the Webster VFW, for an old fashioned fish fry, a solitary flag remained as a reminder that days such as these are celebrated by courage of those brave few that were willing to fight and defend it.

This simple idea of giving back that began over prayer and coffee has spread like a wild fire to become a recognizable volunteer non-profit veteran service organization that we take pride in. Since its inception, we have humbly served over 300 Veterans and their families with no plans of stopping. With God in control, along with our diverse and passionate Board of Directors, our amazing volunteers, and our generous sponsors and partners, I believe the sky is the limit to what can be accomplished.

An amazing adventure of faith, hope, renewal, change, and healing awaits all involved. Join our Warriors Never Give Up team and let’s change the lives of our nation’s heroes one outdoor adventure at a time.

Brett Bastian, Co-founder
Troy Fox, WNGU Board Member
Healing heroes through outdoor adventures


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