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32 active duty soldiers treated to fishing trip

By Staff | May 18, 2017

Operation Open Arms has provided outreach to those in active service in the U.S. military in many ways.

On Wednesday, the non-profit organization was at it again, this time sending 32 U.S. active military personnel out on a fishing trip from Get Away Marina, next to Pinchers, then treated them to lunch at Matanzas by the Bay.

Capt. Tony of Capt. Tony’s Fishing Adventures in Fort Myers Beach extended a 50 percent discount, of which Operation Open Arms paid about half. That was equal to two charters that OOA founder Capt. John “Giddy-Up” Bunch would charge.

It was the largest group of soldiers they have taken on a single trip in the organization’s 12-year history.

Bunch, who served as a Marine, said he felt obliged to put this trip together, even if he had to make ultimatums, serious or not, to get it done.

“When the request came in, it was about finding a way. I don’t know how to do it, but I guarantee to find a way,” Bunch said. “When I took it to the board of directors, they said the cost would be astronomical. I said I felt so strongly about it, if you don’t want to do it, any one of you can become the unpaid director.”

They found a way to get it done fast.

Sgt. Shannon Tasker, a center leader, put the trip together as a way to reward everyone in her company for their hard work as the school year drew to a close.

“I was looking for a way to let my soldiers have some fun during work because we had a stressful month,” Tasker said. “I told them we’d take a break at the end of the month and treat them for all the work they had done. I reached out to Capt. Bunch and he found someone to do it.”

“We had a great time. We don’t have enough time to spend with everyone in the company. Mostly, it’s the people who you work with at the center,” Tasker said. “This was the first team-building event where everyone can participate.”

Operation Open Arms offers local businesses, associations, and individuals an opportunity to support active duty troops. It offers free or reduced price vacations, wedding ceremonies, and other services to those protecting this nation. More than 300 Lee County businesses sponsor the organization.

Tax deductible donations to the nationally recognized charity may be made through its website via PayPal at operationopenarms.org/donate/ , or mailed to

Operation Open Arms, PO Box 101, St. James City, FL 33956