Veterans Get Days at Sea

Freedom Fighter Outdoors, a nonprofit program, was started by Vinnie LaSorsa, the mate on Jimmy Buffett’s sportfishing boat, Last Mango out of Montauk, and his wife, Sarah LaSorsa
Eric Nappier, Steve Bohn, and Ken Weinert, Army veterans wounded in combat, enjoyed a day of fishing in Montauk last month courtesy of Freedom Fighter Outdoors. Vinne LaSorsa

Twenty-three veterans and their significant others, including one canine, visited Montauk in late June for some good fishing. The vets, all of whom are disabled in some way, were brought to Montauk by Freedom Fighter Outdoors, a nonprofit program, which was started by Vinnie LaSorsa, the mate on Jimmy Buffett’s sportfishing boat, Last Mango out of Montauk, and his wife, Sarah LaSorsa. The goal is to help wounded veterans enjoy fishing, hunting, and other organized outdoor events.

Working with Wounded Warrior, the couple started the program last year with three men and their wives or girlfriends. This year, the group spent two days fishing and enjoying Montauk hospitality. The fishing trips were on boats donated by captains who dock at the Gone Fishing Marina on East Lake Drive. After the first day’s fishing, on June 18, they returned to the dock to be welcomed with a chicken and rib barbecue put on by Rick Gibbs of Rick’s Crabby Cowboy Café, also on East Lake Drive. The meal ended around a campfire with the group making s’mores.

The next morning, breakfast was donated by the Fish Bar before the veterans headed out on the water again. At the end of the second day offshore, they were shuttled to Lisa and Bob (Bing) DeVeglio’s home at Camp Hero, where margaritas, lobster, filet mignon, clams, mussels, vegetables, and dessert were served, all donated by Montauk residents and business owners. The DeVeglios are Freedom Fighter Outdoors board members and have entertained other veterans in previous years.

The next morning the group enjoyed breakfast at Solé East, courtesy of the Jerry Walsh family of Connecticut for the second year. They then visited Suse and Peter Lowenstein’s place on East Lake Drive to view “Dark Elegy,” the sculpture of 74 grieving women, which Ms. Lowenstein created after the couple’s son, Alexander, was among those who lost their lives in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. The visitors were touched by the memorial, Ms. DeVeglio said. She expressed dismay that the Lowensteins’ offer to present and pay for the sculpture’s installation at Montauk’s Kirk Park had been withdrawn after stirring controversy.

Next year’s event is expected to be even bigger, Ms. DeVeglio said, and volunteers are always needed. Those interested can contact the DeVeglios, who live on Washington Avenue or go to freedomfighteroutdoors.org.  “We’re looking to expand,” she said.