Guardian of the Week – SKC Dave Curran

Project Healing Waters and Volunteers at Saltery Lake.

Project Healing Waters and volunteers at Saltery Lake.

The sport of fly-fishing requires an abundance of gear – rods, waders, vests and ties.

For Chief Storekeeper Dave Curran, fly-fishing requires heart.

“I wanted to do a trip centered around fly fishing for wounded veterans but just didn’t know where to start,” said Curran. “I found out about Project Healing Waters while reading a fly fishing magazine and knew that was something I wanted to take part in.”

Sharing his love for fly-fishing has a great emotional and personal meaning for Curran who’s been casting line for 15 years. Growing up, it was a bond he shared with his younger brother, Carl F. Curran II.

While Carl was deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom with the Army National Guard, the brothers exchanged e-mails and made plans to go on a fly-fishing trip in Alaska as soon as Carl’s deployment was complete. Tragically, Carl was killed in action on May 17, 2004, outside Fallujah by an improvised explosive device before they could take the long anticipated trip.

Dallas Ervin fighting a pink salmon on Chiniak Creek

Dallas Ervin, a participant with Project Healing Waters fights a pink salmon on Chiniak Creek.

Dave turned tragedy into giving by partnering with volunteer programs like Project Healing Waters.

“My time spent sharing my hobby is like giving the trip I had promised to my brother,” said Curran.

Curran worked tirelessly with Project Healing Waters to plan a weeklong fly-fishing excursion on the American River near Kodiak for five disabled military members and veterans.

A dream come true for not only those military service members but also for Chief Curran.

Captain Tom Garner, U.S. Army, was one of five who was selected to participate in the Kodiak trip. He first heard about Project Healing Waters from his in-processing Platoon Sergeant at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Spc. Caleb Huss, U.S. Army, fishing on Saltery Lake.

Spc. Caleb Huss, U.S. Army, fishing on Saltery Lake.

“The great thing about fly-fishing for me is being out there with all that Mother Nature has to offer,” said Garner. “Fly-fishing is so peaceful and relaxing for me and my multiple injuries and illness.”

While the men will remember Chief Curran for his dedication, they will also remember Audrey, his wife. Audrey and her friends prepared meals and cookouts for the fly-fishermen through the duration of the trip. On the second day, freshly caught sockeye salmon was cooked over an open fire alongside the river.

A highlight of the trip was when the anglers visited the remote Saltery Cove. The day included 16 miles on all terrain vehicles to get to the cove, and then a full day catching “reds.”

“Doesn’t get much better than that,” said Garner. “I can tell you Georgia has nothing on Kodiak’s fishing and beauty. Call me greedy but when I got back to Walter Reed I had to tell everyone what a horrible time I had in Kodiak,” he said trying unsuccessfully to convince others not to attend future trips so he can return next year.

Caleb Huss and sockeye salmon

Spc. Caleb Huss with sockeye salmon on the Saltery river. On the other side of the river is a Kodiak local, a brown bear.

All five of the Project Healing Waters attendees found success in the waters of the American River as each member caught over 50 pounds of fish to take home. But the men also brought home something more meaningful, as the impact Curran had on the men was immeasurable.

“I can’t believe what kind of miracle Dave Curran is, he has no idea how he has affected so many by his relentless work on this trip,” said Garner.

Chief Curran made sure to mention the trip could not have happened without the help of some generous non-profit partners. As a member of the Kodiak chapter of the Chief Petty Officers Association (CPOA), Curran turned to the 35-member chapter, who did not hesitate to contribute. As the local community heard word of the trip, donations starting coming in from the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Veterans of Foreign Wars Ladies Auxiliary, Lions Club and Island Sportsman’s Association as well as other CPOA chapters from CGC Sherman and Connecticut.

Do you know a Coastie that has done something great for the service, the missions or the public? Please submit your nominations for Guardian of the Week using the submit link on the right.