While We Were Fishing for Chinook – – –

While we were fishing for Chinook – – –

Someone who lives on the lonely road between Hebo and Valley Junction keeps a tally of our service men and women who have died far from home, in Iraq or Afghanistan.

I don’t know the person who keeps this tally of lives shattered, don’t know the sign keeper’s story, but I suspect that their life has been deeply touched by this war.  I imagine that the sign-keeper maintains this count with love and sorrow; perhaps anger too.  I just don’t know.

I have driven past this sign in sun, rain, and storm for years now, on my way to and from the coast.  I don’t remember the number from each passage, but I know the number continues to grow.

I remember my father, an amateur radio operator (W7CYF, I think), devoting countless hours (days, weeks, months, years) making radio connections between gravely wounded soldiers on hospital ships off the coast of Vietnam with family members stateside.

A veteran of WW II and Korea, my father was deeply disturbed by the Vietnam “conflict.”  He obsessed over these broken and maimed lives in an undeclared war he saw as — – – – – – .

I don’t really have a clear and complete picture of what he thought, because we never really had a complete, sober conversation about Korea, or Vietnam. I do know that he saw a difference between WW II and Vietnam.  I can only imagine how he viewed these “wars” by piecing together many small pieces of his tearful stories like a quilt

Most probably, the number on this sign will be higher when I next trek off in pursuit of salmon.

This sign reminds me that men, women, and children of many nations, many faiths, are dying each day, in declared and un-declared wars around the world, while I work, or spend time with my family, or just go fishing..


Post Script: As I trudge home after another Chinook fishing adventure, daydreaming about flies, hooks, lines, salmon, friends, and my family, I see that the number has indeed marched ahead.

5 thoughts on “While We Were Fishing for Chinook – – –

  1. Thanks for this post, Jay. I have a boy in Afghaniscam right now. My thoughts on that situation, the history of our government’s unconstitutional meddling in foreign affairs, my belief that what is really happening is very different from the story that is being spun, and absolute certainty that military occupations of Iraq & Afghanistan is a waste of lives & time are all irrelevant. I just want him home in one piece so we can pick up where we left off and go fishing…

  2. Hey Jay, I follow your blog and check it pretty regularly. I too am an avid fisherman and would like to think of myself as a conservationist. Currently, my brother and sister(twins) and both of my brother-in-laws are in Afghanistan and I watch the news and reports from their on a daily basis, always keeping an eye out for my family. I do not agree with war unless it is absolutely needed, and in my opinion this war was not.

    This has all been one big mess and I hope to see all of our troops home soon, without the loss of any more lives! I look forward to your future posts, they are very inspiring! Take care…


    1. Nick. thank you. I wish for these wars to come to an end soon. I grieve for the men, women, and children of every nation, heritage, and faith who are thrust into the horror of declared and de facto war around the world. I remember that our military personnel are the public face of these wars, but there are the uncounted by-standers, human “collateral damage” of these wars. No one comes (or stays) home unchanged when war is waged. No one is unscathed. We are all harmed in some way by these battles.

      All this is simply a clumsy recognition that my pursuit of fishing adventure is trivial in the larger realm in which people are trying to survive from day-to-day.


  3. thanks man… appreciate the post………… too many live touched by these conflicts…..and not nearly enough………

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