Hooks For Heroes – Veterans and First Responders Fishing For Hope

By Faye Higbee

Last weekend, a group of veterans and first responders that included our own Rick Ferran, went fishing with Mark the Shark in Miami. As they were out in the ocean, an unexpected call came in from Hooks for Heroes, who volunteered to pay for the fishing trip. They saw the trip mentioned on Instagram.

Hooks for Heroes is a nonprofit organization that  “sends American Veterans & First Responders fishing, free of cost, to help cope with the physical and mental injuries sustained during service.” Fishing has always been a way that their Marine veteran founder, James Torborg, finds that release from his stresses. So he wants to share it with others.

James enlisted in the Marine Corps in March, 2006. He was only 17 years old and his parents had to sign a release. He said he could have gone into any branch, but the Marine Corps was his goal because they are the “best of the best.”

His MOS ended up as 6257 – Aviation Mechanic. He worked on F/A-18 Hornets at VFA 105 at NAS Lemoore Ca then VFA 106 at NAS Oceana, VA. (VFA- Strike Fighter Squadron).

Upon completion of his Marine Corps service at the end of 2011, he joined the New York Police Department at the 73rd Precinct. In 2014, he switched to the FDNY, where he is now part of  Engine 302 (“The Viper’s Nest”). He is well acquainted with serious stress, so he understands the importance of a place of release. Hence: fishing.

This year their 2nd annual Hooks For Heroes Summer Fluke Slam Fishing Tournament and Fluke Fillet contest is to be held on August 26. The last day to register was August 17th, but there will be a last signup at 5 p.m. on August 25th at their annual “Captain’s Meeting” at Scotty’s Fishing Station on Long Island at Point Lookout (adjacent to the Buoy Bar).

For more information you can email: info@hooksforheroes.org. For ways to donate and further information about Hooks for Heroes, go to their website at hooksforheroes.org

Other board members of the organization are:

  • Vice President – Michael O’Dowd – Michael is a USCG Licensed Captain and a specialist in offshore/inshore fishing.
  • John Vitello – Specializes in Marketing/Advertising and works in NYC as an employment recruiter.
  • Felicia Nicholas – Specializes in managing large scale event planning and is on the board of another 501(c)3 nonprofit.
  • Hugh Raiten – Specializing in hospitality and is the manager of a fine dining restaurant on Long Island.

We wish them well in their endeavors for our veterans, both Military and First Responders. All of these groups face the worst of the worst during their careers. Help in any form is welcome in the battle for their lives.