100 veterans competing in this year’s tournament on more than 48 of Southern California’s finest sportfishing yachts
Community lined the banks of Newport Harbor to cheer on our nation’s heroes during patriotic boat parade
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#FreedomAlliance–The highly anticipated 2023 War Heroes on Water (WHOW) sportfishing tournament supporting combat-wounded veterans kicked off yesterday, returning to Newport Beach, Calif., for its spectacular sixth year. Harnessing the healing powers of the ocean, the transformative three-day event takes place off the coast of Southern California, helping veterans recover from the physical and emotional wounds of combat through the creation of deep and meaningful relationships forged through the thrill of a world-class sportfishing competition.
The WHOW tournament schedule began with a welcome reception on Saturday, where veterans received a hero’s welcome as they gathered with captains, crews and supporters. From there, they boarded their vessels and joined a patriotic community boat parade through Newport Harbor, before heading out to sea for three days of sportfishing competition. On the water, the prowess of SoCal’s finest fisherman takes center stage as each team shares its knowledge of the local waters and expert fishing techniques to get their veterans on fish. The competition concludes Monday with a celebratory weigh-in on Catalina’s iconic Green Pier.
At Saturday’s welcome reception Marine veteran and multi-year WHOW participant Charles “Woody” Dishman reflected on the importance of WHOW for the veteran community, sharing, “The chance to come back out here, to see and meet new people that have become family – it’s really changed my life and every other veteran’s life here who I have talked to. What Anthony Hsieh has created and given us, what the whole team at WHOW has done, has absolutely been amazing. This has definitely changed my life.”
WHOW Founder Anthony Hsieh and Freedom Alliance President Tom Kilgannon picked up the mic, sharing inspiring words about our nation’s heroes while thanking supporters in front of an intimate audience.
“This is all made possible by this group of supporters and donors along with our generous yacht owners, who donate their yachts and their time,” said Hsieh. “It’s unheard of that in five short years we have raised $5 million for our wounded vets. Every single vet that we take out, and love and support by showing them our attention for four days, makes a difference in their lives forever. For those of you involved, you can see it, you can feel how much they get excited over this and how important this is.”
“I love this event; it is so incredible and inspiring,” said Kilgannon. “When I look around, I see people who are creative and talented, happy and optimistic. I see people who are so very caring and so very generous. Thank you so much for all the time and talent and resources you put into this event because it cares for American heroes, people who have put their lives on the line and who have served and sacrificed. You are making a difference in their lives. When I look around, I also see a group of people who are ready to go fishing; this is a very special group of people – it’s a group of people who are strong and courageous, they carry the wounds of war and the pride of having served our country. We are so grateful to you, and what you have done, and what you have been through, and we are honored to put this event together for you – to serve you and care for you.”
Following the heartfelt speeches, Tournament Director Rod Halperin joined Hsieh on the dock to send off the tournament’s 100 veteran participants, many of whom have been honored with our nation’s highest military decorations, including the Silver Star and Bronze Star medals and the Purple Heart. This year’s WHOW fleet includes more than 48 of the West Coast’s finest sportfishing vessels, each donated to the tournament by generous SoCal patriots, some of whom are participating for the sixth straight year.
The day’s events included a silent auction, which was brought to life by generous volunteers and donors, and generated more than $460,000. This brings the total raised this year to $1.1 million to date and the total raised since inception to more than $6 million via Freedom Alliance, supporting the non-profit organization’s year-round therapeutic services and scholarships for combat-wounded service members and their families.
Giving the veterans a proper send-off, the Orange County Honor Guard sang a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem and presented the American flag. Before heading out to sea, the WHOW fleet paraded around Newport Harbor in a stirring display of patriotism for the spectators who came out to express their deep-seated gratitude for the sacrifices made by our combat-wounded military heroes.
Following their time at sea, the WHOW fleet will gather outside Avalon Harbor for the tournament’s weigh-in celebration on Monday, September 25, at 5 pm. Saluted by a flyover of vintage WWII aircrafts, teams with notable catches will head to Catalina’s iconic Green Pier, a coveted opportunity and dream for many West Coast anglers. The event will be live-streamed on Facebook and YouTube.
Once the catches are weighed, the fleet will return to Newport Beach to close the tournament weekend with a moving awards ceremony at the Newport Beach Country Club on Tuesday, September 26.
About War Heroes on Water
War Heroes on Water (WHOW) is an annual sportfishing tournament of unprecedented scale that supports combat-wounded veterans’ programs. It was created in 2018 by loanDepot Founder and Chairman Anthony Hsieh, also the owner and leader of Team Bad Company, a world-class, record-holding competitive sportfishing fleet. Through Hsieh’s deep connections with the country’s sportfishing and business communities, WHOW has grown exponentially and is now the largest non-profit sportfishing tournament in the US.
Additional information, including photos and videos from past tournaments, may be found at www.warheroesonwater.com | Instagram: @warheroesonwater | Facebook: www.facebook.com/WarHeroesonWater | YouTube: War Heroes on Water Fishing Tournament
About Freedom Alliance
Freedom Alliance is a charitable organization which provides help and support to wounded troops and military families. Freedom Alliance has awarded more than $25 million in college scholarships to the children of military heroes killed or disabled in military service and has spent millions more helping injured veterans and military families with outdoor recreational therapy trips, Heroes Vacations, care packages for deployed troops, mortgage-free homes, all-terrain wheelchairs and much more. To learn more, visit www.FreedomAlliance.org or Facebook.com/FreedomAlliance.